BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — This much is certain: Brattleboro knows how to bottle bohemia. The southern Vermont town has long embraced the charmingly idiosyncratic. Peaceful protests are a thread of daily life here and environmental volunteers scout the sidewalks. In the historic downtown, purveyors of hand-thrown pottery and rare vinyl are situated alongside well-populated yoga studios and bookstores touting copies of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
In the midst of this wonderful farrago sits the new Superfresh! Organic Cafe, which has captured the local zeitgeist, and is informed by the growing sensibility for all-natural, farm-to-table eating. The vegetarian, predominantly vegan, restaurant specializes in inventive interpretations of global favorites, such as quesadillas stuffed with house-made kimchi, raw pizza topped with a cashew cheese, and pad Thai with kelp noodles. “Our menu is an extension of my own kitchen and organic cooking,” says co-owner and executive chef Jessica Weston, a holistic-health coach. “We want to create dishes that make you feel good and be confident that you’re eating something that isn’t genetically modified and is free of allergens like gluten and dairy.”
The menu emphasizes fermented foods, and pairs contrasting yet balanced flavors. This harmony is seen even in the fruit smoothies, like a “golden goddess,” which combines mango, turmeric, and ginger for an effect that is both sweet and peppery. Weston and her partner, Jake Roberts, opened the restaurant in January after the couple experimented with a small eatery in a local creative arts and wellness center in town.
Their venture sits in an old-time storefront adjacent to Whetstone Brook, where diners can watch the white-water tumble toward the Connecticut River and order an ever-rotating bowl of grains, legumes, and greens, with homemade dressings like avocado Caesar or maple ume. There is also a version dubbed the “gratitude bowl,” inspired by a series of California-based cafes that let customers pay what they can. At Superfresh!, some give less than the suggested $7 donation, plenty provide more. “It’s rare that you can have the pleasure and convenience of visiting a restaurant that doesn’t compromise on its food,” says patron Steven K-Brooks, who usually orders one of the cafe’s vegan choices.
The restaurant has become a budding part of the local culture in other ways, offering live music on Saturday nights, rotating local art on its walls, and offering memberships, in which customers receive food discounts and other perks like cooking classes and workshops on herbal remedies.
The cafe’s partnership with area farmers has cemented a communal kinship. Superfresh! currently teams with a half-dozen growers for organic picks from kale and mesclun to cabbage and strawberries. “It’s a new relationship that we want to see expand,” says Amanda Thurber, who, with her husband, Ross, operates Lilac Ridge Farm, a third-generation organic farm in the rolling hills surrounding Brattleboro. By prioritizing local buying, she says, “They’ve made a big difference in the community already.”
Attention to detail has made the restaurant many friends in Brattleboro and beyond. The new spot hand-presses a variety of nut milks, bakes a proprietary onion bread from scratch, and shapes patties for its burgers from hearty mushrooms.
“The food is clearly packed with energy,” says Dan Lydon, a customer and frequent musical guest. “Superfresh! has an uncanny knack for choosing the right ingredients and creating tastes that are engaging and never quite what you expect.”
Superfresh! Organic Cafe, 30 Main St., Brattleboro, Vt., 802-579-1751, superfreshcafe.comMatthew Bellico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.