Sunday, March 11, 2012
Butterbean Bakery and Bistro
112 College Street
Launching a vegetarian restaurant in Tennessee requires equal doses of bravery and good planning. Unveiling a vegetarian, gluten-free restaurant in Gallatin takes that challenge up several notches. Meredith Jones, the owner and chef of the new Butterbean Bakery and Bistro, seems to be up to the task. Butterbean has already attracted a following in Sumner County. Interestingly, it may be more for the quality of the food than the dedication to vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine. They use locally sourced and carefully chosen ingredients. Sumner County is chock-full of chain restaurants, but it has just a few, decent lunch spots with creative fare. This means that Butterbean is filling needs in many ways.
Butterbean is located in an elegant older house just off of Main Street and a few blocks from the Gallatin square. It’s warren of small rooms with wood floors and high ceilings. A couple of tables grace each room and the entire space feels very much like a DIY tea room. The menu is handwritten on little note cards. It changes daily, but seems to focus on a couple of Panini choices, a soup or two, a salad or two and some sides. It’s an extremely limited menu, but the emphasis on quality over quantity is appreciated,
A cherry tomato Panini is nicely pressed and features Dubliner cheese, red peppers and zucchini. The bread, as everything on the menu, is gluten-free. It’s a bit denser than traditional bread and yet it’s a pleasing difference with plenty of flavor. They’ll substitute dairy products on request for vegans, where possible. Creamy potato leek chowder proves to be the hit of this lunch. It’s silky, rich and fresh tasting. The vegan broccoli, pecan and golden raisin salad is sweet and tangy. It’s a small portion for a side and diners may find that throughout the menu. Still, given the quality of the food sometimes less is plenty enough. It may be a bit pricey for the portion size, but I felt perfectly satisfied with what I received for the money.
Another visit brings a barbecue wild mushroom Panini. The caramelized onion and aged white cheddar help make this excellent sandwich hearty and flavorful. As with most everything sampled, the sandwich is well-seasoned. A rich butternut squash soup is given a sweet turn with roasted apple. It too is top-notch, making this one of my favorite lunches in recent months.
You can’t leave without sampling the gluten-free baked goods. Jones worked as a pastry chef for years and when she developed a gluten allergy called Celiac disease she decided to take a turn at creating gluten-free baked goods. She remarks that the process was not easy. It’s safe to say she’s found her groove. A beautiful little banana cupcake is topped with rum cream frosting. It’s dense and almost scone-like in consistency. The date bars are a big favorite and sell-out quickly many days. Pineapple upside down cupcakes have chunks of pineapple for a moist treat as take-out. It would be a shame to leave for lunch without taking something home.
Now for the sad part of this story: the Veggie Eater hasn’t been able to eat here yet. Butterbean is currently just open on weekdays (check their website to see if that changes). Until they have weekend hours I suspect there will be many Nashville folks bummed out that they can’t enjoy one of the better vegetarian restaurants in the area. The gluten-free aspect should also pull people in, as Butterbean is being called the only dedicated gluten-free restaurant in Middle Tennessee.
I paid $25 with tax and tip and three cupcakes to go and on a second visit $14 for lunch alone.