Nashville Exchange Restaurant Review

By Abbey Foucart, 2017

To say that the downtown strip of Nashville is slow on weekends would be an understatement. When my group visited in late October, there were hardly any cars to be seen, besides a few odd ones parked outside shops. Hungry, we walked into the first restaurant that was open: The Nashville Exchange Steakhouse & Café. The whole front half of the place was empty of people, just rows of tables in the center and bookshelves lining the walls. Beyond that was a cashier standing behind a glass case full of desserts. Brownies, cookies, assorted pastries: the Nashville Exchange had it all. We learned that the restaurant also served sandwiches and had a salad bar, although neither were out at the time.

Noticing that Portuguese bread was listed as an option for sandwiches, I asked the cashier about it. In my four years of living in North Carolina, I had never seen any Portuguese products sold, like they were in my Massachusetts hometown. Not very talkative, the cashier told me that he did not know the reason they carried it. He seemed reluctant to answer any other inquiries we made, so I paid for a giant brownie drenched in hot fudge and we perused the books on the shelves. Although there was a variety, there seemed to be a religious theme to most of them: religious detective work, religious poems, religious suspense thrillers, etc.

In short, is Nashville Exchange worth the visit? Certainly anything lacking in atmosphere and service can be explained by the absence of customers when we visited, perhaps typical for a Saturday. The books were charming. And the brownie was gooey, delicious, and almost as big as my hand for only a couple of dollars. In the future, I hope to come back to the small town of Nashville to experience the Exchange on a good day, to make a more informed judgement.

Michael’s Showside Grill Review

By Lauren Franceschini


As we drove into Spring Hope, the first town on our journey to the coast, we noticed its sleepiness. Divided by an abandoned railroad track, the streets were lined with thrift stores, antique shops, and one restaurant, Michael’s Showside Grill, where we decided to stop for lunch. From the outside, the Showside Grill appeared to be like any other diner. The sign out front advertised live music on the weekends and small, colorful tables were set up to encourage residents to eat outside.

Upon entering, I was immediately struck by the interesting designs on the overhead painted ceiling tiles. Each tile had a different design, some amazingly artistic, others more childlike and abstract. We sat in a traditional diner booth and began looking at the menu that offered everything from sandwiches to burgers to pasta to barbecue. As the waitress took our drink order, we asked about the ceiling tiles. When the Showside Grill first opened, they invited community members to paint a tile to be displayed in the restaurant. This clearly showed how integral they were to the community and how close-knit this town was to its local businesses.

When it came time to order, I kept it simple with a chicken sandwich topped with an onion ring and a side of fries. Classic diner food. When it arrived, very quickly, I might add, the sandwich was stacked high and looked just as good as I imagined. I had never had an onion ring in a sandwich before, but the fried crunch added an extra layer of dimension to an otherwise typical meal. The fries tasted like pure comfort and it was obvious that everything was made with care.

Though there weren’t many other people eating at the time, it was easy to see how the Showside Grill could fill up on a Friday Night. There was a bar at the far end of the restaurant, and a small stage area where local bands could come in and perform. As we finished our meal, we continued to sit at our table to chat. The relaxed and quiet atmosphere encouraged us to slow down for a bit. To sink into our chairs and just enjoy the peace of being with friends on beautiful fall day.


An Afternoon in Tarboro

By Ciara Corcoran


The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew was present in Tarboro as we tried to drive into the town. Sections of Highway 64 were blocked due to flooding from the Tar River and the National Guard stood by the blocked sections, advising drivers to take detours through town. We followed the line of cars into downtown Tarboro with the cloudy weather accentuating the gloom that hung over the town.


The cloudy weather became cloudier until rain ushered us into a coffee shop. The Tarboro Coffee House sits at the corner of East Church Street and North Main Street in downtown Tarboro. Stepping into the shop, I was surrounded by the comforting smell of freshly brewed coffee and the buzz of families stopping by for hot chocolates or scoops of ice cream. I opted for some ice cream myself and ordered a scoop of the Hershey’s Cappuccino Crunch to satisfy both my coffee craving and need for something sweet.


Lauren, Abbey, and I chose a seat near the front of the store, overlooking the rain on Main Street. I flipped through the local paper, which brought the extend of the flooding into new light. Hurricane Matthew didn’t just close off a few streets; a number of homes near the river had been destroyed by the flooding. Tarboro hadn’t even been hit the hardest. Towns all along the Tar River suffered damages due to the flooding caused by the hurricane. Tarboro High School became a refuge for the residents of nearby Princeville and American Red Cross Shelters had been set up across the town. The hurricane had occurred almost two weeks prior, but the communities were still feeling the impacts. The Tar River Times reported the damages to be over $1 million dollars in order to repair the nearly 50 condemned homes and the destroyed roads along the river.


I finished my ice cream and looked out at the rain that now seemed to be only a drizzle. I could see flyers posted about fundraising for the families impacted by the hurricane. We hadn’t been nearly as affected back at Elon, 135 miles to the west. The few days of rain were an inconvenience at most.  We had nowhere near the damage that Tarboro was facing. After the coffee and ice cream, Lauren, Abbey, and I drove back to see the damage near the road closure. The National Guard didn’t seem too keen on us slowing down to survey the road, but we could still see places where the road had broken off and water still remained.


To continue on our journey, we had to drive on one section of road that was cracked in half across both lanes. We had passed this crack on the way into town, thinking it was almost chasm-like. Now, it didn’t seem like any more than a fracture in the road.

Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market

By Ciara Corcoran


On a crisp October morning, we pulled into the Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market. The goal: fresh apples. Status: hungry. The Market was situated in a permanent shelter on Peachtree Street, about 5 minutes from Rocky Mount’s historic downtown. I was hoping for nothing more than a fresh North Carolina apple. Much to my dismay, we were not in apple region. We were in seafood region. Outside the shelter was a man selling fresh shrimp and crawfish out of the back of his truck. Inside the farmer’s market were a variety of vendors. Sweet potatoes, fresh flowers, baked goods, grits, handwoven baskets, personalized aprons. There was even an antique car. I quickly scoured the vendors, accepting the fact that I was misguided in my apple desire.

The vendor that caught my eye was S & S Boiled Peanuts. I’d never had a boiled peanut, but that was all about to change. I struck up a conversation with the man and his wife who were selling the peanuts and revealed the fact that I’d never had a boiled peanut. Well, this just didn’t stand with him. He got up and offered a boiled peanut to me and my two friends who were along for the journey. He cracked the soggy peanuts in half for us. Inside the damp peanut shell were two engorged peanuts that looked nothing like the peanuts I knew and loved. The disdain was apparent on my face because the man reminded me that “they’re legumes, not nuts.” This may be true but I still wasn’t on board. I popped the beans in my mouth and was overwhelmed by the heat and the saltiness. I slowly chewed but had I not been in the presence of the man who prepared the peanuts, I would have spit them out. I couldn’t get past the mushy consistency and saltiness.

I thanked the man for the peanuts, and he commented on the camera I was carrying, asking what I was taking pictures before. I explained the project and he summarized it by responding in his North Carolina drawl, “So you want to know what Southerners do on the weekends? We get drunk.” He gave me some context to this by explaining that today was Koichella, a beer, music, and food truck festival happening at Koi Pond Bar about five minutes from the farmer’s market. He even said that he and his wife would be there later selling more of their boiled peanuts! We thanked him for the invitation but had to decline, not because of the boiled peanuts, but because we had to continue our journey down the highway.

We drifted through the farmer’s market some more. Completely abandoning any desire for an apple, I found Magie’s baked goods and pursued my options. I was overwhelmed by a selection of sweet breads, pies, and pastries, each looking more delicious than the next. I ended up purchasing a sweet potato turnover from. Magie recommended toasting the turnover in a George Foreman grill. We didn’t happen to bring a grill on our journey, but I can tell you that is was just as sweet, soft, and flaky eating it straight from the bag as we continued our journey down Highway 64.

Abbey Foucart


Abbey Foucart is an English major with a concentration in Professional Writing & Rhetoric at Elon University. She has minors in Psychology and Environmental Studies & Sustainability and works as a lead consultant at the Writing Center. Abbey is very passionate about the environment, specifically concerning sustainable farming practices and bat conservation, and has aspirations to use writing as a way to promote activism in these areas.

Lauren Franceschini


Lauren Franceschini is an English major with a double concentration in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She spends her time working in the Center for Writing Excellence and as the Editor-in-Chief for Colonnades, Elon’s art and literature journal. After graduation, Lauren hopes to go into a career in editing or publishing, preferably abroad in London.

Ciara Corcoran



Ciara Corcoran is a senior double majoring in English Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Drama & Theatre Studies. When she’s not working as a Consultant at the Center for Writing Excellence, Ciara can also be found completing her undergraduate research about the student experience at Elon. This Northern Virginia native relocated to Elon University, with a brief study abroad stint at Trinity College Dublin. In addition to Ireland, her travels have taken her down Highway 64 as part of the Coastal Plains group. After graduation, Ciara hopes to teach English abroad before pursuing a career in publishing.