LOCAL EATS: Clover House Market

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By Dianne Lively Yost

staff writer

Clover House Market Gifts & Café is a restaurant with a gift shop or the other way around considering how you prioritize food and shopping. Both rank pretty high on my most-enjoyable-activities list, but to me (and by the looks of my waistline) Clover House is first a restaurant. That’s because I totally enjoy everything about the menu, the open, bright space; the first-name-basis and casual friendly energy among the staff and patrons; and of course the element of shopping blended in with the dining experience.

Clover house is owned by Madisonian Christy Friesen, a multiple business owner, mother of three girls, a wife and active community member. I honestly don’t know how she does it all, but I’m sure glad she does. I personally think she does it because she’s incredibly focused, full of energy, relishes a challenge and loves the fine art of business. She’s also a great role model for girls in general and for her own children. You’ll often see her girls helping out in the restaurant when they’re not in school.  While not the first retail business she’s owned (Christy is co-owner of Teal Couture with Beth Cathey), it is her first restaurant business.

“I’m very blessed to be able to do this and none of it would be possible without our great team,” she says.

Indeed, Christy’s staff is awesome. Anthony Taylor is king of the kitchen and has a magical knack for cooking, while Leigh Rogers manages the floor and retail areas of the business.

Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday, Clover House is truly a home-away-from-home spot. I find myself totally at home dining alone or with friends.

If you’re looking for super healthy meals, they’ve got it: fresh salads; super-filling, delicious grain bowls, soups and fabulous sandwiches. The White Bean Kale soup is a show stopper.

If you’re in the mood for the yummy factor, nothing, and I do mean nothing, beats the Clover House Breakfast Sandwich: Your choice of toasted bread, eggs fried or scrambled, spinach, sliced tomato, cheese and your choice of bacon or sausage patty served with fruit or if you order during lunch potato salad.

This sandwich is too good. So good in fact when dining recently with my friend Ellen Sims, she exclaimed that her sandwich was so delicious that “I don’t want it to end.”

I told this story to my brother-in-law Lynn Charlton who visited from Huntsville, Ala., last month. He’s super, super selective about food and was suspect that a sandwich could be that good. So off we went for breakfast. He ordered his breakfast sandwich with gluten-free bread. The verdict: Yes, he said: “I don’t want this sandwich to end.” He was particularly pleased with the gluten-free bread and ended up buying another Breakfast Sandwich to take along for lunch on his drive home to Huntsville. So there you have it! It’s a must-try for sure.

Another delicious family favorite are the Clover House quiches. When it comes to presentation, they are in a class all of there own. They’re so beautiful in fact that my husband ordered one right there at the counter to take home before he ever tried it. Since then, we always order a full quiche for family get-togethers. These quiches make an easy breakfast for a crowd or a wonderful addition to a formal brunch. Or they’re just a great everyday treat. Our favorite is the broccoli, cheddar and bacon quiche that packs a little heat. The Quiche Lorraine is also very good.

And, don’t forget dessert. Hand-made, fresh cakes, pies and cookies are the order of the day. You never know what to expect. But, the Chocolate Chip Pie topped with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled chocolate chips is so lip-smacking-good my son Harrison (who rarely likes anything unless it comes from a fast-food joint) actually gobbled it down in seconds. You can order desserts for take out too.

If you’re in a hurry during lunch, a refrigerated display stands next to the counter filled with salads, soups and pastas for a quick quality meal.  You can also buy Clover House’s pimento cheese, chicken salad, soup and pastas by the quart, pint or half pint.

Oh and while you’re waiting for your food, stroll around the gift shop area for the perfect wedding, baby or birthday gift or as is usually the case for me:  a special treat for yourself.

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