Delicious Soup and Sandwich at the Birchwood Cafe

I will admit it.  Sometimes we go out for dinner.  I wish I could say it was planned in advance and anticipated.  In reality, it is most frequently a decision made last-minute when we have been busy and we’re too tired to cook.  We are fortunate to live near quite a few great restaurants.  Going out to dinner is a common happening when we’ve been doing a ton of entertaining and the associated cooking and cleaning and don’t want to mess up the kitchen and have to clean it again.   In November, we had a Chili and Chocolate party for 16 friends and out-of-town guests at the beginning of the month, prepared and delivered a few meals to an emergency youth safe-house in our neighbourhood, and hosted Thanksgiving for us and our parents.  Each of these meals required planning, shopping, food preparation and cleanup, and left us a little zonked the day before and the day after.    There will be a series of posts on our November food preparation, but in the meantime, I’ll share a glimpse of a typical meal we ate this month on a busy week night evening.  I’ve been strongly favoring restaurants that make it easy for me to make a healthy food choice and eat a smaller portion.  That is why we’ve eaten at the Birchwood Cafe three times this month(!)   Their menu is full of vegetarian-friendly, healthy choices, imaginative combinations of ingredients, and most importantly, the food tastes great!

Of the three Birchwood meals I’ve had this month, I’ve eaten the Roasted Three Seed Sandwich twice.  I’m hooked.  The sandwich is served on focaccia which is much more appetizing than it appears in the photo above, where the herbed bread looks like a drying out slice of a puffy omelet.  The sandwich’s handle makes reference to a crunchy spread made of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds which is very good.  What really makes the sandwich a hit for me is the combination pumpkin-curry spread, microgreens and very thin, crunchy slices (more like shavings) of  black radish, carrot and chioggia beet.  It is an inspiring sandwich.  I’ve made several sandwiches at home with thinly shaved root veggies since; and I am so glad to have been given the inspiration to include these vegetables in a sandwich.  They add a different textures and flavor and they are capable of so much more than simply being roasted or served in a cold salad.  On this particular evening, I had a half sandwich with a pretty average cup of roasted root vegetable and potato soup.  It was a thin, and sort of nondescript soup.  The crunchy somethings, and the fresh scallions on top were the flavor and texture highlight.  The soup really wasn’t much.  The thick slice of cucumber that my sandwich was served with is slightly softened and briny with vinegar and dill, but I wouldn’t say that it has crossed over into being a dill pickle just yet.

I tasted Bjorn’s soup, and it was definitely the better soup choice of the night.  He had the chipotle red pepper bisque with white rice.  I am not sure, but I think the soup is topped with avocado oil.  I didn’t order it because we eat store-bought  roasted red pepper and tomato soup fairly often, and I thought I should try something else, but this was darned good.  Much more flavorful than the lame, boxed Roasted Red Pepper soup we have at home, as well as the Roasted Root Vegetable watery affair that I ordered.  Bjorn’s sandwich was also decent, according to his report.  It was an 0range-braised pork shoulder shredded with fontina, roasted pear puree, sweet onion and lettuce on a sesame seed buttermilk bun.  As you can see in the picture, Bjorn removed most of the onions.  We both enjoyed a pint of Westside by Harriet Brewing, a copper-coloured slightly-hoppy, and somewhat tart ale.  Even though tonight we did not dine in the same room as Haley Bonar or Mason Jennings as we have in other trips to the Birchwood, we really enjoyed our meal and I’m sure that if December is anything like November, we’ll be back soon.