Food, Sweat And Cheers: The Green Cafe, Lakeville, CT
By CB Wismar
If the name The Green Café isn’t enough of a clue that the food in Leslie Eckstein’s new eatery in Lakeville, Conn. is going to be healthy, then the four-word slogan will seal the deal. “Wellness…Vitality…Nutrition…Balance.” They could have added the words “Fresh…Appetizing…Delicious” to the logo, but perhaps they ran out of room.
The Green Café is housed jointly with Studio Lakeville, Leslie’s fitness center, in what for years was the abandoned firehouse. With Leslie’s vision and under the skillful hand of builder Seth Churchill, the building was converted to an attractive, welcoming space that is buzzing with spin classes, yoga, Pilates, Zumba and a cafe open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. that is rapidly attracting raves from the wider community.
Leslie has brought Karen Jacobs in to be chef/manager of the café, and the breakfast and lunch offerings are well worth the drive. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Jacobs is keen on sourcing local produce and sustainable, organic, non-GMO proteins.
Leslie Eckstein and Karen Jacobs
Breakfast is an ample offering that features huevos rancheros with avocado, baby heirloom tomatoes, black beans and cage-free eggs ($7.95); multigrain French toast with fresh berries ($7.95); and a breakfast burrito brimming with either scrambled eggs or tofu, cheddar or vegan cheese, salsa, black beans and tomatoes ($7). The appearance of “vegan” and “tofu” as alternatives in menu items underscores Eckstein’s emphasis on healthy eating and Jacobs’s flavorful execution of that vision.
For those who want a lighter breakfast break — or replenishing refreshment after a workout — the smoothies are worth a visit in themselves. What better way to start the day than with a mango-banana smoothie with hemp seeds or a coffee-maple shake?
Lunch offers a two-sided menu. One side invites those who identify themselves as “herbivores.” Flip the sheet over, and “carnivore” invites your attention.
On the herbivore side, a tasty avocado toast on grilled baguette with tomato, balsamic drizzle and micro greens tops the list ($8), followed by several salads with ingredient choices from beets, kale and baby spinach to chickpeas and red onions. Prices range from a simple house salad at $6 to $11 for each of the more sophisticated offerings. If a sandwich is more your midday style, then the “Melty Goodness” offers cheddar, gruyere and mozzarella with spinach, tomato and carmelized onions ($9).
For carnivores, you’ll find the “Bangin’ Burger” of grass-fed beef, cheddar, avocado, pickled red onion and local greens on a fresh bun ($14) or a blackened salmon sandwich, yogurt sauce, pickled onions and arugula ($15). The “Lakeville Cubano” is a delightful blend of flavors, combining roasted turkey, citrus-marinated pork loin, pickled red onions, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon mustard. At $13, this sandwich is spectacular, as is the “Gobbler,” a cold combination of turkey, avocado and cranberry mayo served on pecan cranberry house-made bread ($13).
The “house-made” distinction is most important for the baked goods at The Green Cafe. One of Leslie Eckstein’s career stops was as pastry chef at the former Harvest Bakery in Salisbury. She demonstrates both her expertise and her love of baking by creating breads, muffins, scones, biscotti and other baked delights which are treasures worth taking to go if you’ve already enjoyed breakfast or lunch and just can’t find the room for something more.
Sign up for the daily menu feed via email and discover specials that are very special, indeed. (Perhaps the announcement of a carrot-coconut soup or a salad Nicoise with salmon will appear in your inbox.)
Plans call for expanding the current hours to include dinner when spring turns to summer and the outdoor patio can be opened for patrons.
The Green Café
9 Sharon Rd., Lakeville, CT
Open 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily.