September 11, 2015
No not pinkberry, or blueberry, or blackberry but today we focus on greenberry as in Greenberry Café. This lively neighborhood spot in the Primrose Hill area has become one of our favorite stops for a meal since we’ve been here. Now maybe it’s because they have avocado in at least one of their salads daily or that they have multiple, delicious salads or the odd trend we’ve noticed where 90% of the customers seem to be American. Either way between the normal “accents” and avocados we feel right at home.
With both indoor, outdoor and a few bar seats there’s certainly a spot for just about everyone although on a nice evening or a weekend I’d come armed with a reservation because it can be tough to get into as we’ve learned on more than 1 occasion. Obviously our hope is that they’ll recognize us soon enough if we keep going and have no problem scoring a seat when we need it.
The other thing that we love is their menu set-up. Not only do they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (which we’ve sampled all 3 so far) but they also have a hand-written specials board and an all-day ‘traiteur’ board. Now I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant except that it always had at least one thing I wanted to, and usually did, order from it. So naturally I did a little more research both from the web and from the help of a local St. Louis chef.
First of I’ll say that the French word ‘traiteur’ has ties to the Italian word ‘trattoria.’ However the difference has more been in the evolution of what the word represents. Originally in France dining out meant going to the house/kitchen of a guild member who served up a meal for the evening to patrons. Depending on what was delegated to them, they would usually only have 1 prix fixe menu per day which was written on a board. Now the name wasn’t used for the board but rather the guild member or their local traiteur.
Flash forward to modern-day France where the name traiteur has become a caterer but also includes take-out or home delivery service nowadays. While there are still a handful of traiteurs who do banquets or have seating in their place of business it has become quite rare. Most are smaller shops set throughout markets or towns where they rely on their window displays to draw customers in. In the US and UK we know them by the much less desirable name of a delicatessen but the idea is the same. The other thing that remains quite similar among most are the staple foods they serve … salads, cold meats and seafood dishes.
So here at Greenberry the traiteur board usually has a couple of salads, one of which is the Greenberry Salad which is an ever-changing one depending on the season and what they have just gotten in fresh. They also have a selection of charcuterie as well as at least 2-3 seafood dishes on there, usually 1 cold and 1-2 hot dishes. Finally this will also feature their special 2 or 3 course prix fixe menu as a throwback to the old days. It consists of a soup, main and dessert with the 2-course at £11.50 and the 3-course running you £13.50. Usually the soup and dessert are things that can be ordered à la carte off the regular menu but the main is a special for the prix fixe meal. The specials board will have some other selections as well from salads to appetizers to mains and are normally items that are seasonal enough they didn’t want to print all new menus right away.
I will say that in the 5 or so times we’ve been there thus far we have seen at least a couple different menus and very different special and traiteur boards almost every time. So today I’ll highlight our last trip there which was for a nice midweek dinner. As always we decided on a couple of entrees and a starter to share.
The starter was one I hadn’t seen on the menu before but it may have been the highlight of the meal. It consisted of 2 large fresh figs stuffed to the brim with creamy goats cheese and drizzled with a nice concoction of a homemade honey mustard glaze and a generous helping of pine nuts. In the middle was some mixed greens and on top were 2 perfectly crispy strips of bacon. It was a good 4 bite per person appetizer which was the perfect way to start.
Next came our entrees … now the nice thing about Greenberry as I mentioned before is their selection of salads so you can at least imagine you’re being healthy. So tonight we balanced out the healthy and the gluttonous with a salad and a burger. First up was the Greenberry Salad which was again one I had not seen there before. It consisted of some arugula and heirloom tomatoes as a base then had quinoa, grilled corn, avocado, mango, coriander, feta and a chili & lime dressing. I thoroughly enjoyed it although Lindsay wasn’t as wild about it. Now just remember how I said I loved this place because they always had a salad with avocado? I didn’t always mean that the avocado tasted anything like it does back the states. In fact they are rather tasteless, it’s more the texture which this place does well. At least they feel like avocados should when you bite into them as opposed to most places where you almost break a tooth on them because it’s still hard but if they were to let it ripen one more day they’d go bad. It’s a fine line with no preservatives and pesticides to keep your fruit and vegetables from spoiling too soon and growing extra-large. Plus you have a smaller window for that “prime” eating time which I am absolutely okay with. So without further ado, the Greenberry Salad.
Finally we were between about 3 other things for our last dish but decided on the burger. Now even though I am getting back into meat (out here in the UK) the one thing I still have a hard time eating is beef. Luckily this was not a beef burger! Instead it was a Moroccan spiced lamb burger and anything with Moroccan spices gets me just about every time, there’s something about those warming spices that always make me feel good. I’m a sucker for cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cayenne or some combination of those. So the burger this week came with pickled cucumbers (or pickles to the lay person), lettuce, harissa mayo and sweet potato fries. The fries were delicious, especially dipped in the mayo. The burger was very well done (not temperature wise but just good) although it was a little oily. However you could tell it was handmade and on a soft and buttery sesame seed bun.
So rest assured we’ll be back to Greenberry plenty and with the hope they’ll know our names and faces after too long. Also I touched on a subject that I’ll expand upon in another post down the road and that is the quality of food, namely fruits and vegetables out here. Until then though, and since we started this post by diving into a French word, why not end it with another one … Bon Appétit.