Miss Moon Pie Raids the Pantry

Story Cherri Golden | Photograph Luisa Porter

Review_JudyNightingale

Photographed by Luisa Porter.

Whenever Miss Moon Pie sets out to try a restaurant, the intent is to discover what type of dining experience customers may expect. What I’ve ultimately discovered is it’s always about so much more than the food. This visit was no exception.

Around 2008, when Richard Nightingale became ill with cancer and could no longer support his family driving a truck, he and his wife, Judy, opened a small store in their home set back off U.S. Highway 45 Alternate, about 10 miles north of West Point. They began by selling cheeses and meats, bulk foods, fabric and a few Amish-made items and gifts.

Sadly, Richard passed away in August of 2010. He never saw the expanded location built just off the highway in front of their home reach completion in the spring of 2011. Judy and Richard’s son, Tyson, assists in managing the business when he is not hauling grain and salt for Northwood Trucking, and their daughter, Jody, and daughter-in-law, Wendy, are also vital to the continued success of this family business.

The new Nightingale’s Pantry & General Store includes a restaurant offering breakfast and lunch. The dining area is simple, bright and cheery. Through a high window, which looks into the kitchen, you can catch glimpses of Judy, or one of the other ladies busily preparing the meals and delicious baked goods. The atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. The muted clunk of pots and pans, the whoosh of water in a sink, and the conversational murmurings and soft laughter of the ladies at work in the kitchen surround you, the soft din regularly punctuated by the call of a cuckoo clock.

With your order placed at the counter, wander up and down the aisles of the general store. This Miss couldn’t help but be reminded of her Papaw’s little grocery that he opened in the late ’40s and operated for many years in Eupora.

The Pantry’s unpainted wooden shelves are laden with all manner of necessities — gluten-free bread and muffin mixes, bulk spices, dried peas and beans, soup mixes — and not-so-necessary, but oh-so-tempting delicacies — dried, sugared pineapple rings or sugared mango slices, chocolate-covered coffee beans among them. Troyer meats and cheeses, fresh-baked goods, Amish-made jams and jellies, and jars of pickled okra, asparagus and beets and a fine array of yard goods and sewing notions are also available.

A large upright freezer is packed with entrées all ready to be taken home and popped into the oven. Bulging plastic sleeves of raspberry, blueberry and Bavarian Crème filling had the Moon Pie mind boggled with endless possibilities.

I took a seat in the restaurant and my made-to-order salad arrived promptly with my sandwich of off-the-bone ham, marvelous Swiss cheese, lettuce with a little mayo and a condiment called roasted red pepper sauce. Both were fresh and tasty, but the highlight of the meal was a piece of incredibly delicious caramel cake, which I took with me and somehow managed to eat while driving on toward Tupelo. I made a mental note to return for a sandwich of Sweet Lebanon bologna, maybe with Muenster jalapeño cheese, a frozen casserole and another slice of that caramel cake!

So, whether you need a spicy rub for your brisket or a soothing salve for a tender rump, Nightingale’s Pantry and General Store is stocked with a cure for what ails you.

Nightingale’s Pantry & General Store — 6162 Hwy 45 Alt. N.,  West Point, 662-494-0150, nightingalespantry.com