I’m not a terribly big fan of brunch. I have my eating schedule pretty much down to a science and get a little weirded out by any changes in structure or timing. However, when I’m on vacation, I try to let go of the reins a little bit and give myself some leeway to enjoy things I don’t normally do.
Hence my total excitement when, while poking around Northampton on Wednesday afternoon, I ran across a little cafe called Green Bean. I could say they’re a traditional breakfast/lunch place with coffee drinks and baked goods available, but even at first glance it’s obvious that they’re far from traditional! The first thing about their menu that stood out to me was the clear statement that tofu or tempeh can be substituted for eggs in any dish. Meaning that vegans or anyone who wants to avoid eggs…can! So of course, my mom and I planned on having a farewell brunch there on our way out of town the next morning.
The place is awesome inside. Small, but in a cozy way, with fun decor. The artwork on the walls was colored metal “etchings” done by kids from the Montessori school in Northampton, which I thought was pretty cool. A lot of them were very cute and my mom and I had fun looking at them while waiting to order.
I had called ahead to check on whether or not their veggie sausage was vegan and if there was a vegan scone option. Turns out the veggie sausage has cheese in it, but it’s easy to substitute tempeh strips! I was also able to get a bagel instead of a scone in the “World Famous” breakfast I ordered, a scramble usually made with eggs (for which I subbed tofu), cheese (which I left out), and veggie sausage, served with a side of red potatoes and a scone. The staff were very friendly about my questions and requests, even when I asked that nothing used to cook dairy come in contact with my food.
A neat side note about beverages. When we first arrived, our waitress brought us water in Ball mason jars-very eclectic and unexpected. And the in-house order of coffee at Green Bean is bottomless, a fact you’d think couldn’t get any cooler…but it does. How, you ask? Green Bean has a mug tree. Yep. A metal tree on which their groovy collection of in-house mugs resides, ripe for the picking. Also, they have soy milk and what appeared to be organic sugar available in addition to traditional coffee add-ins.
I had been expecting scrambled tofu in lieu of eggs in my order, but when it arrived the tofu was in cubes. Nothing wrong with that at all, as I quickly discovered it had a lovely grilled flavor and was not in the least bit squishy. The tempeh strips, which were little bits of tempeh remeniscent of bacon bits, complemented this well. Mixed in was a combination of veggies consisting of broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, red bell pepper, and spinach. The potatoes were excellent as well; crisp and seasoned on the outside, soft on the inside. The bagel was a little smaller than those I’m used to, but given the amount of food on the plate, I couldn’t complain. Plus, Green Bean keeps Earth Balance in their refrigerator case for anyone who wants to use it instead of butter!
As with my experiences at other restaurants, the food at Green Bean was too much to eat all at once. Therefore, I went home with a lovely takeout container of leftovers to reheat for dinner later on! I found that I felt a little overfull during the day, but I attribute that to eating a massive amount of protein and starch in one sitting without any raw food. When I accompanied the leftovers with a big salad, I didn’t get the same feeling. And it made a heck of a dinner.
I give Green Bean two thumbs way up. I love the concept of bottomless coffee, and it’s incredibly easy to veganize just about everything on the menu. In addition to the egg dishes, there are dedicated “not egg” dishes, wheat-free vegan corn cakes, vegan herb-onion bread, a breakfast burrito, and a bunch of unique sweet and savory options. It would take a long time to try everything vegan on their menu, which is okay…it’s definitely worth going back.