Friday, February 28, 2014

Freshness Rules at MJ's Café

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
Nothing makes food more delicious than a heaping side of positivity. When you walk into MJ’s Cafe on Jefferson Hwy. you’ll most likely be greeted by Maureen Joyce herself. I like to belly up to the bar of freshness and chat about life, but during most lunch shifts the small restaurant gets so crowded that you might not find a seat. If you sit in the back corner as I did on my last visit, you'll see a chalkboard room divider full of helpful positive tips for your day. It’s little things like this and Maureen’s interactions with customers that warms my heart more than her soups ever could, although in no way is that a slight to the pots of liquid nourishment.

MJ’s is a great little lunch spot and is doing special edition dinners every month now. Swing by and ask Maureen about the details of the next dinner and see what’s on tap for lunch during the week. To those of you who haven’t visited yet, I’d describe it as a mainly vegetarian place in a way that’s not blatantly vegetarian. Sure, most of the options are veggie friendly, but I don’t feel like I’m missing any flavor when I bite into one of her dishes. Plus, there is a sandwich that has shrimp, so you don't have to go strictly vegetarian! To put it simply, MJ’s Café is a delight and it is time that you know about it.

MJ's Black Bean Soup
MJ's Black Bean Soup
MJ's makes a mean quiche and a plethora of soups and sandwiches, but what really caught my eye on the last visit was the Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad. People have this inherent stigma against Brussels sprouts. Nobody must have cooked them right in the 80s. If you have never tried roasted Brussels sprouts, you are missing out. Maureen just got a fresh batch of them from the Farmer’s Market (where she get the ingredients for almost all of her dishes) and I couldn’t resist. With fresh spinach, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and delectable vinaigrette, this salad was hearty and light all at the same time. Just what I needed amid my constant diet of craft beer and grease.

That being said, I couldn't just stop after a salad. Anytime Maureen has her black bean soup on the menu, I can't resist. It came loaded with tasty beans and ripe vegetables. This is a true treat of a vegetarian friendly soup. There is no lack of flavor just because Maureen doesn't start with a bacon base. Her soups, and everything else for that matter, hold up well no matter what sort of food you might be looking for. Just do yourself a favor and get there early!

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