Cari Taylor-Carlson
Dining

Still Healthy After All These Years

Beans & Barley still draws crowds for healthy, fresh, organic meals.

By - Jun 17th, 2019 03:43 pm
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East Side Week
Beans & Barley. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Beans & Barley. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Beans & Barley buzzed on a recent Saturday morning. There were couples, families, singles, senior citizens, teens, and three burly men in the booth behind me enjoying Super Green Smoothies. Breakfast has always been popular at Beans, and this sunny Saturday morning was no exception. They serve breakfast from 8:00-11:00 Monday-Friday, and on weekends an expanded brunch menu is available from 8:00-2:00.

My Quiche of the Day, Cheddar Broccoli with herbed potatoes and a bowl of fruit, had a tasty flaky crust, filled with chopped broccoli, and enough cheese to satisfy a cheese lover. Roasted potatoes with slivers of caramelized onions, were buttery, while the fruit bowl overflowed with three kinds of melon, strawberries, grapes, and pineapple. Some variety of the Daily Quiche is available weekdays, as well as the weekend. Also, on the Monday-Friday menu, you’ll find eggs many ways, Buttermilk Pancakes, Almond French Toast, a Tofu Burrito, and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup. If you want Biscuits and Gravy, Frittata, or Eggs Benedict, come on a weekend.

Art on the walls of Beans & Barley. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Art on the walls of Beans & Barley. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

The restaurant, a cheery room filled with light from tall windows lined with plants, is airy, spacious, and has an unusually high ceiling. The combination of booths and well-separated tables gives customers a sense of privacy in this contemporary space. On the interior wall, five stunningly realistic paintings of familiar east side landmarks may be purchased, and/or admired, for their pristine photographic details. The restaurant rotates the art on its walls.

At a recent lunch, a companion and I ordered the Soup of the Day, Creamy Spinach and Gazpacho. The spinach soup, thick, rich, with chunks of potato and lots of spinach, hinted of nutmeg, while the gazpacho tasted of the summer we’re all waiting for. This pureed tomato-based soup had pieces of fresh tomato, celery, and green pepper, and was enhanced by slivers of fresh basil.

The Daily Special, Pesto Lasagna, was a hearty dish, a classic meatless lasagna dressed up with pesto, with enough heft to satisfy a meat lover as well as a vegetarian. My companion’s Cajun Chicken Sandwich, a breast rubbed with a spicy house blend had some heat from both the rub and chipotle mayo. For dessert, I indulged in Banana Cream Pie, an irresistible slice, generously topped with “real” whipped cream

The next time a companion and I came for lunch, I reverted to my frequently ordered quesadilla. Over many years I’ve tried them all: black bean, sweet potato, chicken, the basic, stuffed with queso blanco, and my all-time favorite, Roasted Vegetable. For this quesadilla, they roast and chop a blend of seasoned zucchini, broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms, and onions, then stuff them inside a large flour tortilla, cover it with more cheese, and grill it. My choice of hot green salsa added fire to this healthful lunch. Our green-haired server said the “hot” salsa is seriously hot. She was right.

My companion’s Tuna Salad Sandwich, seasoned with dill and capers, included tamari sunflower seeds to give it extra pizzazz.

Beans and Barley is much more than just a restaurant where they serve creative vegetarian dishes, it’s a playground for food lovers, a place with a deli filled with delectable salads to go: Balsamic and Gorgonzola, Grilled Vegetable, Caesar, Fresh Fruit, Pasta and Potato. They’re not just delicious, they’re organic. Or, you can pick up a ready-made salad as I did and be surprised at home when you open the container and salad for three or even four, not the anticipated single serving, pops out of the box. From the cooler, you can also purchase a single serving of Tuna Salad, Egg Salad, or Chicken Salad to make a sandwich at home.

There’s an impressive cheese selection, hot and cold deli dishes for a quick meal, ready-made sandwiches, and wine by the bottle to accompany your take-out dinner.

You can buy a classy summer hat, a birthday card, a colorful scarf, hand lotion, sunglasses, or even a dish towel.

Beans also has a significant catering business. They do both full-service catering and pick-up catering. If you wish to serve dinner for 12, you can let the Beans staff cook for you. A wide variety of dinner choices includes: an Enchilada Casserole; Fajitas over Rice; Chicken Nicoise; Lasagna; and many more.

Once discovered, you’ll return often as I do, because you know whatever you find at Beans, it will be healthy, organic, tasty, fresh, and did I mention, reasonably priced.

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