The closing of the Batesville Store was a miserable shame, and to the people responsible: what you’ve done is bad and you should feel bad. It was the perfect nearby getaway, music venue, food destination, the quintessential small town hangout. However, as one door closes, one more opens.
The brand new Plank Road Exchange is of course different from the Batesville Store with different guiding forces and a different overall feel. However, it basically looks the same and still offers delicious house-made foods and specials, frequent live music, and the lovely small-town charm. It’s new, of course, and still has kinks to work out, but the Exchange offers a wide selection of sandwiches, house-made sides and desserts, Albemarle Baking Company breads, Caromont cheese, Gearhart’s Chocolates, Devil’s Backbone and Starr Hill beers, and a great deal of Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses.
There are many interesting choices (which I gather include frequent specials), but I chose the Croque Mister, broccoli salad and a macaroon. Their Croque has a great contrast of textures and flavors going from slightly crisp on the outside to the creamy ham and cheese inside, with the brilliant starkly contrasting salty with a sweet and slightly bitter orange marmelade (I must steal this trick!). The optional egg with toasted garlic crumbs on top would turn this into an impressive feat of culinary and gustatory delights! The broccoli in the side salad was perfectly cooked (just so, not even barely mushy) with a mild but tasty dressing and my weekly fix of dried fruit and nuts. It tended to feel kind of like a pile of stuff rather than a cohesive salad, but I would be afraid of something too creamy messing up the nice textures, only a little more mayo or yogurt perhaps. By the time I got to the macaroon I was too full to finish it, but it was a tasty standard macaroon – I’d want to try a different and memorable dessert next time. This place is a nice short destination with reasonable prices and an interesting selection that I want to explore more. Going on a night with live music is an extra plus!
The Plank Road Exchange is the baby of Aris and Jessica Cuadra, a deliciously fiesty couple with over 35 years in the food business. “We do just about everything ourselves, and we’re very passionate”, said Jessica, and it’s no lie, you can feel and hear the passion pouring out with every order spinning out of the busy little kitchen. Insisting that it’s more than just a corny sentiment, Jessica says of Aris and herself that “we put a lot of love into what we do. It’s not just a job for us, it’s our life.”
Pros: Good flavors and seasoning, many local foods and drinks, nice side selections
Cons: Still working out kinks, intense service experience
Price: $8-10 sandwich, $2-5 sides in two sizes, $5 beer
Parking: No problem.