Make plans to say goodbye to Auburn/Opelika for the evening, and head northwest up highway 280 towards Lake Martin. Once you exit off the highway, you will be transported into a place of an era gone by in Waverly, Alabama. As you drive down the (only) main street in Waverly, you’ll know you are entering town as you pass the cemetery on your left and the legendary Standard Deluxe to your right. Just beyond this point you will see the newest addition to town, The Waverly Local on your left. Some of you may remember this location being the Yellow Hammer Restaurant many years ago, or even a Ford dealership even further back than that. The location is the same, but the building has gone through renovations, and it is better than you could ever imagine.
Saturday evening, we met a group of friends here for an early evening dinner. While we were waiting for our friends to arrive we started off with cocktails in the bar, which is directly right of the main dining room when entering the restaurant. I started with a glass of the Veuve du Vernay, and my husband started with his usual, a Maker’s Mark on the rocks. The new bar area is very inviting and would be a great spot to grab drinks and appetizers with a friend.
Once our friends arrived, we took our seats in the main dining room. I think you will be equally impressed with what the new owners have done with the decor of this building. The outside still maintains much of its same look and appeal, but upon entering the building, you will be delightfully surprised by the design of the interior. It is what I would call industrial and modern, while keeping it’s historic elements. One wall is lined with these large, green round banquette booths. I haven’t yet had the chance to sit at one of these tables, but they are screaming my name for a special occasion. This wall is also marked with pieces from one of my favorite artists, RC Hagans. Most of the work, if not all of it, was done by local craftsman and artists. I love that this restaurant works hard to not only support local farmers, but also artists and craftsmen.
Between our entire group I believe we tried absolutely everything on the menu. No one in our group had a single thing that they did not enjoy. For appetizers, each couple at table ordered the bacon- wrapped Wickle’s okra and the dirty rice fritters. Within a blink of a eye we all had clean, happy plates.
For our entrees, I ordered what is becoming my usual, the heirloom pork with butterbean gnocchi. I could eat an entire bowl of the butterbean gnocchi with just the delicious broth base of the pork. The flavors of this dish are stupefying. My husband ordered the fresh catch of the day, the grouper. This was atop Bradley’s (of George’s Farmers Market) creamy grits, greens, and the Mayor’s mushroom butter. The fish was sweet and perfectly cooked. The grits and greens give the dish some soul, and the mushroom butter adds a lovely umami compliment.
For dessert, our table shared all three options, the coconut cake, the flour-less chocolate torte, and the classic cheesecake. I’m partial to the coconut cake myself. It is not something you find on every restaurant’s dessert menu, and it is simply divine.
We have already returned to The Waverly Local since this dining experience with our friends. They are starting to have live music during the week and are running different specials. We have also heard talk of seasonal menu changes, a broader wine selection, and the possibility of brunches on the weekends. We cannot wait to see this restaurant thrive in one of our favorite places on earth.