|The dining room of The Organic Cafe. |
photo by Alanah Percy
By Alanah Percy
Gordon College News Service
January 30, 2012
As the third oldest raw food restaurant in the country, the Organic Garden Café of Beverly, Mass, is well known on the North Shore and has received accolades from Boston Magazine, Channel 7 News, even Time Magazine. For its annual Valentine’s Day dinner, the Café will once again offer a healthy option for Gordon students planning their dates, a meal that includes an Italian 4-course meal with (optional wine pairing) at around $40.
Caroline Daugherty, the restaurant’s assistant manager, has been working closely with the head chef and staff to prepare this night of romance.
“It’s been a tradition every year since 1999,” said Daugherty, “and it’s looked different every year.”
A former Whole Foods employee, Daugherty connected with the café through the Chef’s Internship program last summer - an internship for those interested in learning to prepare raw meals. By October, she received a call from the owner offering her the position of assistant manager.
Under the leadership of Head chef and owner Robert Reid, also known as “Rawbert ,” the restaurant remains involved with the community by encouraging the formation of organic relationships through special events on the major holidays, cooking classes and “pay it forward” days - where meals can be purchased at any price.
“I was just acknowledging Robert yesterday for what he has sourced here,” said Daugherty. “He has changed every team member’s life.”
Equally compelling is the story behind the café’s creation. Reid left his job as an accountant and opened The Organic Café in 1999 after his sister in law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He then began exploring the medicinal properties of food and took part in several seminars and classes to learn new cooking techniques.
The cookbook “Sweet Gratitude: A New World of Raw Desserts” by Matthew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra inspired Reid’s creations and he coined some of the chapter titles for the restaurant’s menu headings.
College students receive a 10 percent discount with all meals including the Valentine’s Day entrees with their student IDs. For those looking to visit the café on a more casual occasion, prices of entrees range from $2 to $22 with most prices around $9.
One unique aspect of the menu is that it is meatless and dairy free, making it appealing to those with food sensitivities such as lactose, wheat and gluten intolerance.
Daugherty said she transition to a raw foods diet after struggling with a condition called candida, a parasitic fungus affect her digestive tract and skin. After assuming a raw foods diet she said, “My symptoms are a lot better. I feel ten years younger.”
For the non romantic types, a few affordable entrees on the menu include the “Basic Bowl.” At $5.50, this entrée comes with lettuce, spinach, kale, brown rice, quinoa, bean sprouts, sauce, shredded carrot, scallion and clover sprouts. If you are looking for a more festive bowl you should try the “Incan Bowl.” At $9.50 it includes baby greens, quinoa, jack “cheez”, guacamole, pickled jalapenos, onion, carrots and scallions. If you are not willing to spend that much and would only like an appetizer, the kale chips are a great choice. They are topped with homemade cheesy sunflower and red pepper dressing and cost $4.95.
Most of the smoothies range from $5-7 dollars and make for a great afternoon snack with friends. The most affordable smoothie on the menu is the Ice Coffee Frappe-with cashew milk and vanilla for $5.25.
The Valentine’s Day meal features gourmet dishes such as “Crostinis with Demi salad” and includes bruschetta and pepperoni crostinis and mixed baby greens with cashew “bleu cheez” shaved red onion and “reduced” balsamic dressing.
“You don’t want to miss this unforgettable dinner,” said Daugherty. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling the restaurant at (978) 922-0004.