200 Minutes in Johns Creek

photos courtesy of LINLEY MOBLEY, READ IT AGAIN

, so to say I’m still exploring and learning about the area is an understatement. What better way to get to know your new home than to immerse yourself in one of its neighborhoods for a day? I chose Johns Creek.

I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to fill 200 minutes of my day considering Johns Creek is known for top-notch golf courses like Atlanta Athletic Club, which hosted both the 2011 PGA Championship and the 2014 U.S. Amateur, and I’m certainly no golfer. Instead of the links, I focused on a few restaurants, shops and one cozy little book nook. They combine to make Johns Creek special to those who call it home.

Breakfast of Champions

My favorite mornings are spent at The Farmhouse, a quaint coffee and crepe cafe that opened its doors last year and brews coffee by Counter Culture, a sustainable coffee roaster based in Durham, North Carolina. The baristas, led by professionally trained Timothy Dukes, exercise their creativity by coming up with a special off-menu drink each week. Try the Midnight Marshmallow — a latte mixed with dark chocolate and marshmallow syrup that will put you in the mood for a bonfire with a guitar-playing friend. Coffee isn’t the only thing on the menu, though. They are renowned for an extensive and authentic crepe menu by chef and general manager Taylor Foster. I recommend the aptly named Farmhouse crepe, full of oven-roasted chicken, sun-dried tomato pesto, Asiago cheese and baby arugula. Or, appease your sweet tooth with The Duke, which comes delectably filled with creamy Nutella, fresh strawberries and bananas and topped with house-made whipped cream. The best part? Coming soon, The Farmhouse will offer selections of craft beer, wine and coffee-centric cocktails. mycoffeeandcrepes.com

To Shop or Not to Shop?

What better way to spend a caffeine rush than shopping? Next door to The Farmhouse is Piper Lillies, a large gift shop full of everything from home decor to clothing, jewelry and anything you could ever want monogrammed. Opened by Julia Butler in 2012, the shop is named for her two granddaughters, Piper and Lily, and is a great spot to pick up a unique gift or create a wedding registry full of items you won’t find anywhere else.

But, don’t let that knowledge pigeon-hole your expectations – their selection includes homemade shortbread cookies by assistant manager Wendy Virgo who uses her family’s recipe to deliver traditional, cinnamon or chocolate chip treats. Recently, the shop also added tiny paintings BIG CITIES, a collection of miniature paintings of both Georgia landmarks and British novelties 
by Shana Bowes, a local Atlanta artist. facebook.com/piperlillies 

If you’re looking to mix up your shopping bags, hop in the car and head 4 minutes down the road to The Red Hound. Since early 2000, this shop has been full of local, regional and internationally crafted home decor, jewelry and gifts, but here you’ve got the chance to buy with a bigger purpose. Karama Collection, sold here, offers handmade jewelry and leather goods made by women in Ethiopia. These women use discarded or forgotten materials (like empty gun shells melted down) to make something beautiful and unique. By partnering with these women, Karama can provide them with creative, purposeful work that gives them the ability to support their families and thrive in their own environment. theredhoundgifts.com

A New Favorite

Only a few miles away is Stone’s Cuisine & Cocktails, a modern American menu conceived by award-winning Executive Chef Charles Zeran and a place my husband and I had heard great things about. The experience lived up to our expectations. After being graciously welcomed and seated outside, we cooled off with the JC Fizz (a combination of basil, cucumber, lemon bitters, prosecco and vodka) and the Maple Bacon Old Fashioned (made with bacon bitters and maple syrup, giving it an interesting balance of sweet and savory).

To snack on, we chose the whipped CalyRoad goat cheese served with house-made tomato jam, roasted beets and slices of grilled ciabatta. The locally made goat cheese was drizzled with honey and adorned with a chunky and surprisingly savory tomato jam. For our second and third choices, we enjoyed jumbo lump crab cakes and fried salt-and-pepper squid. The crab cakes were paired with an amazing passion fruit tartar sauce and crispy sweet potato straws, while the fried squid was battered in tapioca flour, making it a tasty gluten-free option.

We managed to find more room and split the Baja fish tacos for our entree. Served with pickled onions, salsa verde, jicama slaw and shaved radish, these fresh catch (this day, Pacific Rockfish) tacos were excellent and something we’ll hope to see again. stonesatl.com

Fresh Bread and SWEET EATS

If you choose dinner at home, your menu couldn’t be complete without freshly baked bread and cookies from Vincent Bakery Cafe on Medlock Bridge Road. They offer a variety of baked goods from cookies and churros to loaves of bread and huge slices of cake. Options are endless — especially for satiating a carb-loving sweet tooth, but choosing a loaf of fresh sourdough bread to complement the steak you’re throwing on the grill tonight and a small box of Mocha Walnut cookies is a good starting point. vincentbakery.com

Neighborhood Book Nook

One of my favorite discoveries since moving to the Northside is Read It Again, a new and used bookstore on Peachtree Parkway. As a lifelong bookworm, a room full of floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with every type of book imaginable is a happy place for me. Plus, the staff are friendly, well-read and helpful. I went in looking for nothing in particular, but after talking with them about what I enjoyed, I left with three great books set in the 1930s and 40s (an era which fascinates me) – “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald,” “The Nightingale” and “All The Light We Cannot See.”

This place is great for the whole family, too – especially if you’re on the hunt for a fun outing on Saturdays, when they offer Storytime from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. An interactive event for kids of all ages, it entertains with crafts, science experiments and costumes.

Typical for a book lover, swapping out reads is a tradition. Read It Again has a great trade-in policy, inviting you to bring in your read books to receive a portion of the current publisher price in store credit. You can use your store credit toward half the price of a used book, which is a great deal if you’re like me and love buying books but still want to have money to … well, buy more books! read-it-again.com