Food

Gwen Fowler

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Eating my way along the Swamp Rabbit Trail

Posted 9/1/2012 12:54:00 PM

You can burn a lot of calories riding a bike, but the Swamp Rabbit Trail offers lots of yummy refueling spots.

The 17.5-mile upcountry bike trail runs between Greenville and Travelers Rest, and it offers a pleasant ride where you’re separated from traffic. It’s also designed for runners, with a rubberized surface on part of the trail.

When I rode the trail recently, I was happy to find that in addition to being through beautiful countryside, it’s also pretty flat.

I started my ride in downtown Greenville in Falls Park, and in that area there are a number of great places to eat: The Lazy Goat, High Cotton and Overlook Grill, to name a few.

Those places are all excellent, and I’ve written about them before, so I went in search of places farther out of downtown and enjoyed three great spots.

Our first stop was at Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery, just a short ride out of downtown. I had a farm fresh egg sandwich for good nourishment for the ride, and my husband had a roast beef hoagie with havarti cheese. As delicious and filling as our sandwiches were, we were passing up lots of tempting homemade scones and muffins.

We also could have shopped there for local foods to prepare our own meal. The Swamp Rabbit buys produce and other products from local farms, and there were boxes and baskets of tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, zucchini and lots of other fresh produce.

When you’re on the trail, you can’t miss this place. The words “Café & Grocery” are in huge letters on the brick building.

After a bit more pedaling, I arrived in Travelers Rest, ready for lunch. Our choice is a favorite with bikers and locals alike: The Café at Williams Hardware. Sisters Joyce and Nancy McCarrell opened this charming restaurant in an old hardware store several years ago, and they are as welcoming to people who arrive by bike as they are to those who drive down Main Street to get there.

The front of the restaurant includes cute gift items. To order, you head toward the back, where the day’s menu is on a large chalk board. Nancy McCarrell greeted us and others in line and answered questions about the food.

We took the advice of a gentleman in front of us who recommended the Reuben, which he orders at least once a week. The Café at Williams Hardware also calls that sandwich The Best Reuben. We weren’t about to argue so we ordered one to share. The toasted bread was piled high with corned beef and sauerkraut, and it was delicious.

We also ordered sides of pasta salad and cucumber and tomato salad. I especially liked the cucumber and tomato salad because all of the ingredients tasted so fresh.

Most people sat in the inside dining area on the hot day we visited, but a screened porch and an outside deck provide lots of seating for mild days.

I admired some beautiful desserts; offerings on a typical day are pecan, peanut butter and Key lime pies or coconut, carrot and chocolate cake. But we decided to head across Main Street and down the block for dessert at one more restaurant on the trail.

At Upcountry Provisions Bakery and Bistro, we ordered chocolate zucchini bread. This was no dry veggie bread; it was topped with a gooey, scrumptious chocolate frosting and the bread itself was rich and moist. And although the chef assured us there was a lot of zucchini and other healthful foods in the bread, it tasted completely sinful – more like a cake than a bread. And it was huge enough to serve about four.

I’d love to have lunch here sometime because the sandwich menu looks great. One listed on the menu board the day we visited was the Swamp Rabbit wrap, which features greens, hummus and veggies with vinaigrette dressing in lavash bread. Yum.

The next time you’re in Greenville or Travelers Rest, grab a bike or your running shoes and spend some time on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. And don’t forget to stop to eat along the way.