Here’s the thing about going to a place called The Zookeeper Bistro – you know there’s not going to be an ounce of pretension on the premises.
Sure enough, the restaurant was clean and bright and all about serving wholesome, reasonably priced breakfast and lunch.
We came in around noon and were seated at a table in the midst of a good mix of locals and summer people. Over the years, I’ve learned that that delicate balance between the two populations is a reliable indicator of the overall ease of the dining experience.
Tricia ordered The Highlander Press, a carefully constructed sandwich of sliced corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, swiss cheese and cole slaw.
This was a creation of architectural proportions. And this is where The Zookeeper Bistro reveals itself to be true to its geographical heritage. This is a restaurant on Slabtown Road, where guys literally worked in a quarry. This sandwich was crafted with those storied workmen in mind. They wouldn’t walk away from here hungry.
And while we’re talking about local heritage, let me tell you about our server, Josi. She was attentive and efficient and all those other great server virtues. But here’s the thing – with a little prompting on our part, she opened up and told us about her community, some of the sites that we should see, what we should avoid, and the people we’d meet along the way. Hers was a warm, homespun soul, the kind that’s all but disappeared from the American landscape. Our little chat was a reminder that no matter how beautiful the mountains that surround the Cashiers Valley, they’re matched by the beauty of its people. - By Luke Osteen