Banana bread french toast? Bacon and cheddar scramble? Yes, please. Paying for refills on coffee? No, thanks.
Last time I was in town, I was excited to hear that the favorite lunch spot in Exeter, New Hampshire was serving breakfast. The Green Bean on the Water seems to keep growing, it opened a second restaurant at Pease Airforce Base, and also now offers catering as well. Unlike other restaurants I have seen expand too soon, the Green Bean has remained remarkably consistent over the years, and that keeps people coming back.
Meanwhile, there are few places in the area to get somewhat creative food with “food people” touches, and that’s a draw. For instance, the bread comes from “When Pigs Fly,” another wonderfully consistent business whose every product I love. The Maine- based bakery offers endless varieties of bread, and it’s some of the best bread around. Not long ago I stopped into one of their stores in Boston, and left with more bread than I knew what to do with; whole wheat with cranberry and walnut, a mushroom focaccia and an apricot bread. I was in heaven.
But back to Green Bean. Because there are limited breakfast options in the area, I had high hopes, and I went for breakfast last weekend. I was surprised to see some changes; the restaurant has been renovated, taking full advantage of its real estate on the river. Large, new windows and a little sprucing up make the restaurant look bigger and brighter, and if you snag one of the wall tables you have a much better view than you had before.
The format for breakfast is the same as lunch–you order breakfast from a menu at the counter, and coffee is server yourself. I don’t mind ordering at the counter, and I don’t mind getting my own coffee. Two caveats though: first, I don’t like eating with plastic utensils, and second, a coffee refill is a dollar.
I hope that if breakfast takes off, they start using real silverware. It feels like a shame to eat such good food with plastic, and it’s not entirely practical. Meanwhile, even if you order a large coffee (and there’s only one size mug, so I found myself wondering what I’m paying for) no one has just one cup of coffee at breakfast. I think this is one of those times when you just charge a little more for the first cup.
There are some kinks to work out, in my opinion, but I hope that the Green Bean does. It’s a refreshing change from the other options in the area, which generally include diner food and pastries. The menu is small, but it has the basics covered and then some with french toast, scambles, an omelette or two, and a breakfast burrito. And the atmosphere is nice, particularly in the morning–it’s laid back, colorful, and as the name implies it’s on the water. Based on those things, I’ll go back. And maybe I’ll ask about the coffee situation next time. You know how some things just get under your skin.