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The Field Guide: Forest Hill, Richmond

The Field GuideStephanie StantonComment

Every neighborhood has its own unique landscape, and the Belle Isle Moonshine team wants to help you navigate each of them. In our Field Guide series, we're diving a little deeper into some of our favorite neighborhoods and showcasing a few of the businesses that help to make them unique with the help of some local influencers.

Our host in Richmond will be Shanna Battle, thrifting-maven and Content Creator-in-Chief of the style blog me and Minnie. With Shanna's help, we'll explore a few of Richmond's most notable 'hoods and the stores, bars, and restaurants that make them tick. Next up: Forest Hill


Saturdays were always errand days in the Battle household. My mother would drag us kids from home to the Richmond Public Library, local bookstores, and on some Saturdays, it was off to the dreaded antique shops around town. Antiquing was never fun for kids aged six, eight, and nine. We would drag our feet slowly behind her, whining about our overwhelming boredom and not so quietly praying for release from the torture we had to endure. Of course, the louder we complained the longer she stayed!

I’m not sure at what age it happened, but the antiquing became intriguing, and then exciting to me. Gone were the days when I would drag my feet behind her, wanting to leave. Instead, I would be at her heels, eager to show her something cool I’d found and listen to her tell me the story behind it. Before I enjoyed treasure hunting in a thrift store, I loved the hunt of an antique shop.


Now on Saturdays, I gladly accompany my mommy to an antique store, and we can easily lose our day - and a bit of cash - in the process.  A must-visit on our Saturday antique adventures is Nest. Nestled in the middle Richmond’s Forest Hill neighborhood, I first introduced my mother to this cute, quaint little shop about three years ago when my son was a student at the elementary school directly across the street. Before you even walk into the shop, the porch is filled with vintage wheelbarrows, turn of the century dressers, and hand-crafted pottery.

After a browse outside, we turn our attention inside to the carefully curated treasures that span hundreds of years and tell a million stories. We first walk by a cart filled with vintage bar items. I’ve been carefully building my own bar cart at home, so I look to see if anything catches my eye. While I look, my mother makes her way over to a couch filled with handmade baby hats, dolls, and trinkets. She looks up and spots the most opulent chandeliers, religious pictures, and wall decor. It becomes almost sensory overload -- in a good way of course! Everywhere you turn, there are vintage goodies about, and you don’t know where to start looking.

As we make our way to the back of the shop, we stop and look over a few of the vintage housewares and then we make our way around the corner and find a “Blackmore” that caught our eyes. My mom looks over it, and as per usual, gives me a little history lesson about her right on the spot! On our way to the bathroom that’s peppered with old pictures and frames, she points out a wall of broaches (my weakness) and I must get a closer look to see if there’s one I need for my collection.


We have a few more shops we want to visit, but we need a quick fill-up before our next adventure. We walk next door to Laura Lee’s, a cute little eatery that seems like it's three restaurants in one. We start off at the bar, where we meet Ben and strike up a conversation about bar carts! I typically con my mom into getting me lunch, but today I treated her to drinks - a Diamond Dancer and a Lady Freeze's Negroni. She’s not the biggest fan of cocktails, but Ben made her a drink she loved so much she’s thinking about making it at home with the bottle of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit I got for my dad a few weeks ago.

Neither of us have been to Laura Lee’s and wanted to look around. We moved to the dining room area, finding a seat by a huge picture window that seemed to let in all the sunlight RVA has to offer. With a quick look around, we see the walls decorated with custom art, beautiful greenery, cute vintage-style booths accented by subtle industrial touches, blending the charm of the 1950’s and the minimalism of present day perfectly. We quickly scout an open door and take our adventure to an outdoor patio area that is mini botanical
garden right in the middle of the city. From a little table by a wall of flowers to a bench flanked by shrubbery, it's as if we entered another world. If you’ve ever been to any shop on Forest Hill Avenue, you know it can be a bit noisy. Back in the little garden, the noise of the city seems to halt, and for a second, you feel as if you have been transported to another place.

My mom looks at her watch, and it's time for our next antique adventure, so we take a final sip of our drinks and make our way back through the restaurant. As we make our way out  the door, we know we know we’ve stumbled upon a gem and vow to come back as the summer wears on.


Post by Shanna Battle, founder of me and Minnie. Follow her on Instagram at @meeandminnie to get great thrifting, styling, and lifestyle tips!

All photos by Sandy Swagger Jones. She also has an awesome Instagram feed, which you should follow @sandyswaggerjones

Want to explore more of Richmond?

Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.