Sandwich shop, salad bar, Mennonite bakery, candy store, and grocery, the Country Cupboard of Barnwell can make you happy in all sorts of ways.
Sandwiches are available on house-baked sliced bread or sub loaves (as well as on a croissant or in a wrap). This is not crusty, old-world bread, but the soft, fleecy kind that is all about tenderness. Step up to the sandwich bar and place an order, then discuss its particulars with the maker as she assembles it. All the usual cold cuts, vegetables, and condiments are available, as are sweet Lebanon bologna and thick, rich pimento cheese. Once the sandwich is assembled, it is presented on a tray, which you carry back to a table. On the way, grab a beverage. It’s help-yourself service.
Many customers come for the salad bar. This is no assemblage of rabbit food. It reflects the Anabaptist proclivity for abundance, including several really good composed salads as well as ingredients to build just about any plate you desire, whether abstemious or lavish. A recent visit featured cornbread salad, in which soft crumbles of Dixie-sweet cornbread share space with crisp lettuce, corn niblets, cheese, beans, and a host of veggies.
An alternative or addition to salad or sandwich is a bowl of stew/soup. One day I stopped in, it was ham stew: a farrago that includes a crowd of ham chunks as well as potatoes, carrots, and onions and a sprinkle of herbs. It’s modestly spiced, very homey. Dip your own from the cauldron.
The Country Cupboard’s forte is baking, which means that desserts are special. Ready-sliced pieces of cake are available to carry back to a table. Among the repertoire are red velvet cake, yellow cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake, one correctly named Perfectly Chocolate Cake, and one I never can resist — Italian cream cake. It is loaded with nuts and extravagantly ribboned with sweet cream cheese frosting. A dessert called strawberry delight is a house specialty. It is a cheerful dish of chopped-up fruit in a sweet gelled emulsion atop a layer of sugared cream cheese on a bed of Graham cracker crumbs.
The Country Cupboard does not look quaint from the outside, and the inside is as spacious and clean as a brand-new supermarket. But my dealings with the upbeat staff made me feel like I was in a charming little country store.