“Live Big, Eat Small:” Small B&B Cafe

By Grace Elkus and Brynna Bantley, 2013

As we walked around downtown Pittsboro on a Sunday morning in early October, we were almost ready to give up on finding breakfast. Our options seemed limited to the Pittsboro Roadhouse, where we had eaten dinner the night before, or waiting an hour and getting wood-fired pizza from a small cart that had just pulled in for the First Sunday festival. Our hopes rose when we rounded the corner and spotted a small coffee shop, but to our disappointment, they only served drinks. Not wanting to be rude, we almost resorted to foregoing food and drinking lattes instead when the barista suggested we walk down the road to the café of a small bed and breakfast.

Small B&B was about a ten minute walk from the heart of downtown Pittsboro, so without the barista’s suggestion, we would have never passed by. Located in a historic 1880 Methodist parsonage, the café is open to both guests of the bed and breakfast and to the general public. After following a dirt path that led to the side of the building, we walked up onto a small porch with outdoor seating and into the café. Wooden tables filled the room, and a low counter revealed the kitchen behind it. Scrawled on a blackboard behind the counter was what we presumed were the specials — but when we asked for a menu, the woman behind the counter stared at us and said “Don’t tell me you’ve never been here before!”

We soon learned that most everybody who visits the café are frequenters, returning time and time again to try the newest menu items. Because of the focus on using local and seasonal ingredients, there is no printed menu. Instead, everything being served that day is written on the blackboard. Items that are constants on the menu include quiche with a cornmeal crust, an egg sandwich, eggs any way with smashed potatoes, French toast on orange brioche bread, lemon ricotta hotcakes, granola, and steel cut oatmeal. The “wild card” is the special of the day — and on this particular day, it was vegetarian huevos rancheros.

Between the two of us, we ordered an iced housemade chai tea latte, the lemon ricotta hotcakes, the huevos rancheros and the last slice of the quiche of the day, which was cheddar, tomato and red onion.  We sat at a table against the wall, both seated on the wooden bench facing the rest of the restaurant. It was a cozy, friendly environment, with a sign on the wall that read ‘If we all hold hands we can’t fight’ and folk music playing softly in the background. The counterwoman seemed to know everyone who entered, and her role adapted every time, from offering personal advice to  close friends to taking large orders of homemade cookies and cakes.

The food came shortly after we had ordered it, all piping hot and smelling of fresh herbs and sweet lemon. As the woman set the plates down in front of us, she said “You’re going to have a great morning.” And that we did. The hotcakes were soft, paper-thin, and melted in our mouths. The quiche was piping hot, and the cornmeal crust crumbled delightfully as we cut into it with our forks. The huevos rancheros were a little tough to eat, having been plated open-faced on corn tortillas. But the eggs were scrambled perfectly, the salsa had just the right amount of kick to it, and the plate was garnished beautifully with orange slices and parsley.  The chai was served in a mason jar, and was so refreshing we could have taken two more to go.

After finishing our meal, not leaving a single orange slice uneaten, we let our food digest for a moment before bussing our dishes. Rising from the table, we noticed some Small B&B merchandise available to customers — coffee mugs and T-shirts that read ‘Live Big, Eat Small,’ a cunning play on the name of the establishment. Having just polished off three meals between the two of us, we looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh; we certainly didn’t “Eat Small,” and we’re willing to bet that if you stop in at this deliciously charming B&B, you won’t want to either.