When I was young, I was infatuated with a Spielberg-produced TV show called “Amazing Stories.” One episode was about an artistic ball turret gunner whose quaintly captivating drawings had a way of coming to life. I’m pretty sure he didn’t do any sketches of small-town restaurant-stores in rural Virginia, but if he had, they might have featured The Batesville Store.
If you’ve never heard of Batesville, it’s where you end up if you drive past the old Albemarle County Fair location on Plank Road, just off 29 South. You can’t miss it. It’s as if the tiny town of Batesville exists only to support the store. Some places sprout up around a mine, or a factory, or a rumor of gold in the rivers. In Batesville, it’s the nutella ice cream and pumpkin brownies.*
We wanted to try everything. Unfortunately, we had eaten a full brunch an hour or two before. On display were a variety of fluffy brownies – peppermint, pumpkin, marshmallow. I tried the pumpkin and it was amazing. Rich without being heavy. Homemade ice cream in flavors like apple butter, nutella, pumpkin, coffee, and maple walnut. All kinds of toppings and sauces laid out on the sprawling countertops. I had a pumpkin milkshake. Erin tried the nutella and coffee ice creams. All were fantastic.
We ate on a bench outside by the front door and marveled at our ignorance. How could we not have known about this place? (In all fairness, Jim Duncan had mentioned it to us many months ago, but we forgot about it.) Why isn’t everyone here all the time? Incredibly friendly service, delicious food, beautiful setting. Tables out front with tiki torches lining the road. Antique furnishings. Occasional live music. Older woman across the street in the grass, painting a picture of a horse in the afternoon sun.
It’s almost creepily idyllic. Like they’ll all turn into werewolves on a full moon, and everything would’ve been fine if you’d just honored the ancient pact not to eat both a pumpkin brownie and a pumpkin milkshake in one sitting. Then again, maybe it’s just the creepy namesake. Either way, don’t let it stop you. It’s totally worth it!
* There’s actually a plaque by the store parking lot that paints a colorful history of Plank Road and its importance in the olden days. Recommended reading.