Destination: Cozy “Vanilla Bean Cafe” in Pomfret, Connecticut
Posted on October 28, 2014
Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
Perched on one of the coziest of New England four corners is the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, Connecticut. The beauty of the drive here alone is worth the trip, along scenic country roads – some are officially designated “scenic”. Upon arrival it is clear this cafe is something special.
With a clientele ranging from preppies to couples, families, and cordial bikers sporting a bevy of Harley-Davidsons, everyone can feel comfortable at the Vanilla Bean.
On a recent busy, autumn Sunday, customers waiting in line to reach the ordering counter were greeted by friendly staff inquiring whether or not it was a first time visit. They then offered a brief rundown of the day’s homemade soups. I am a soup lover so this was immediate good news for me. The large menu board is a lot to take in for newbies, however, clerks were pleasant and patient. That was true as well of the other customers – it was apparent people came here to chill-out, relax and enjoy themselves.
Once an order is placed, a large sized playing card is handed out to keep with you so servers know where to deliver the food. There are two indoor dining areas, one including some seating by a window counter looking onto the outdoor patio – all are ‘seat yourself.’ Soup can be brought along right away on the sojourn for a table. Although the cafe was full, staffers circulated regularly to clear tables which opened up in a timely manner yet without anyone seeming rushed.
I ordered a half Reuben and sausage/vegetable soup combo – savory! The grilled teriyaki chicken sandwich, Tomato Florentine soup and cheeseburger also got thumbs up along with oatmeal raisin/walnut cookies and a slice of carrot cake tried for dessert. Tomato Florentine and New England Clam Chowder are year round menu staples.
Other sandwiches include: Vegetarian with Swiss Cheese; Ham, Salami & Provolone; Albacore Tuna Salad Wrap; Roast Beef & Cheddar; Pastrami Reuben; Chicken Salad; All Natural Turkey & Avocado; All Natural Turkey & Bacon. Or create your own sandwich. In addition to the soups, they serve “award winning chili” made using “a top secret, slow-cook method”. There are salads – Caesar, Garden, Tuna Salad Plate, Chicken Salad Plate, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Grilled Shrimp Caesar, Bean Burrito.
From the grill: Basic Burger; Cheeseburger; Vanilla Bean Cafe Burger – the basic topped with bacon, smoked cheddar and spicy ketchup; Turkey Burger; Buffalo Burger; Local Beef Burger; Marinated Chicken; Teriyaki Chicken; Vegetable Burger; Black Bean Burger; Hot Dog (Hebrew National); Cajun Dog (Andouille Sausage); and a kid’s menu.
In the late afternoon customers can try Bean dinner specialty burgers (available after 5:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. on Sundays): The Farmyard turkey burger with Hormel Apple Wood smoked ham, Cheddar cheese, fried egg & spicy ketchup; Smokey Local burger with Hickory smoked bacon, chipotle BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, smoked cheddar & spicy ketchup; Herbed Chevre; and the Southwest turkey burger. Quiche comes with a warning – “whenever this delicious special is on the menu, it sells out by mid-afternoon.”
“Morning at the Bean” weekdays 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., encompasses New England Coffee to go or “in-house bottomless”, Tea, juices, Espresso, Cappuccino, Mochaccino, Latte, Hot-Chocolate, Chai, baked goods like muffins, bagels and cinnamon buns, ginger lemonade, fresh squeezed orange juice and iced specialty beverages. Weekend Breakfast is served Saturday & Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon featuring a two eggs special, egg sandwich, plain or blueberry pancakes, vanilla/cinnamon French toast, Eggs Benedict, chili omelet, scrambled egg burrito; and sides. If what you crave is not on the menu the Bean invites customers to, “Just ask us – if we have it, we’ll make it for you.”
Vanilla Bean owners, the Jessurun Family, have done a nice job of blending an airy/contemporary atmosphere with country/rustic. According to a history of the cafe, established in 1989 it is located in a restored, early 19th Century barn. They use local products when possible, cater, and attract entertainment from “the National Folk Music Circuit” – most shows start at 8 p.m. on Saturdays. As noted in the Bean Soup newsletter, now in its 25th year of business the restaurant has a new logo, an updated website, and has made capital improvements such as the addition of a generator so it can remain open during electrical outages. A recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Nozko Family Business Leadership Award, the Vanilla Bean has two in-state sister restaurants, 85 Main in Putnam and Dog Lane Cafe in Storrs.
The Vanilla Bean Cafe is another spot I plan to visit again – I look forward to seeing it when *snow* is on the ground and in the air!
The Vanilla Bean Cafe, corner of Routes 44, 169 and 97. Pomfret, CT 06258; Go to http://www.The Vanilla BeanCafe.com or, call 860-928-1562. Open Monday, Tuesday 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wed., Thur. 7 a.m. – 8 p.m., Fri., 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sun 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Check ahead during winter months about early closing. Closed on Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.