Let me start off by stating that I really enjoy businesses that are located in houses. A few doors down from the Vine and Bean is one of the best knitting/crocheting stores in Cleveland, Fine Points. It too is located in a wonderfully charming, older house on Larchmere. On a few occasions I have sat in the front room there, requesting help fixing holes in socks, feeling very much at home. This homey feeling is the same, if not even cozier, at the Vine and Bean. The Professor and I headed over there this past Sunday to investigate their brunchiness. We were not disappointed.
The Vine and Bean is the newest endeavor by Heather Haviland, of Lucky’s Cafe, Sweet Mosaic, and Sanctuary Bistro (to open in the Tremont Lofts in Fall 2009). Local goodness at its finest. Located at12706 Larchmere Boulevard, the house is adorable. I remember going there when it was Cafe Limbo, but I don’t remember it feeling as warm and inviting. Standing at the counter, amidst fresh baked goods and the aroma of coffee, was Carrie, who I just so happened to go to high school with. It was nice to walk in and see a friendly face. The weather in Cleveland was amazing on Sunday, so the Prof and I headed out back to find a seat in the yard.
Most of the tables were filled, and everyone was smiling as they sipped cups of fresh coffee and enjoyed a sunny morning with their loved ones. Even though we live on the West Side, we still managed to run into friends and chat for a moment. I eyed the plates around me and then turned my attention to the menu, knowing there were tough choices ahead.
Our server handed us both the brunch menu as well as the lunch menu. I was feeling more morning-like, so I concentrated on brunch. With offerings like cheddar scallion biscuits topped with soft scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, served with hash browns and grapes, a Breakfast Burrito stuffed with veggie scrambled eggs, covered with guajillo pepper sauce and cheddar cheese, baked in a casserole and served with hash browns, and even Mac and Cheese, described as cheddar, brie, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses, baked with pasta and cream topped with brioche bread crumbs served with house-made apple sauce, there was definitely something for everyone here.
The Prof and I like to share. If we each choose something the other would enjoy half of, we get to try twice as many things. This has often times been noted by many a server, as they comment to us as if we were elderly and adorable. I am okay with that. This fateful day, however, I was staring at the description of the biscuits and gravy and almost drooling. The prof did not approve; it looked like we might not be sharing this time around. Then a server walked past with this plate. I could see fresh peaches and a mound of fresh cream sitting atop steaming waffles. The entire masterpiece was drizzled in home made caramel. I changed my mind, much to the Prof’s delight. He went for the Mac and Cheese and coffee. Now it was time to explore.
As I said before, the Vine and Bean is situated in a house turned restaurant. I believe I read somewhere that the cooking goes on in the tiny basement. What this means for the outside seating is that you really are in someone’s backyard. The statues and various pieces of art out back are uniquely entertaining. The guy up there? I really like him. There is another sculpture that looks like it was made from an old piece of concrete and a piece of a bulldozer. Atop the roof of the garage sits, what I refer now to as, the Owlgoyle. The sun got in the way of my photo of him, unfortunately, so you will have to use your imagination. I spent the time in between ordering and the food arriving to wander around the back yard, peering at randomly sprouting plants and happily hidden works of art. I think you could get lost back there if you wanted to.
The food arrived and it looked just as I had pictured in my hungry brain. The waffles were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside so as not to get soggy, and warm and yummy on the inside. The peaches were beyond juicy, as well as present in copious amounts. Cool, fresh whipped cream mounded in the middle and then lined with caramel, just as I had seen breeze past me as I was contemplating the biscuits and gravy. I have a feeling those were delicious too, but I knew I had made the right decision with the waffles. Plus, this way I got to go halvesies on the Mac and Cheese as well!
I am a very picky Mac and Cheese eater. My Mother spoiled me when I was little by making the best mac and cheese ever. I have tried to duplicate her method, but to no avail. I have ordered many a mac and cheese in my day, yearning to find a restaurant competitor for Mom’s. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever compare I have decided. So now I view mac and cheese in two categories, my Mother’s and the others. I am fine with this as well. The mac and cheese at Vine and Bean was really good. The cheeses were blended in such a way that they form a cohesive cheesy sauce, not a clumpy, oily mess which can so many times be found. The top was lightly crispy, from the excellent choice in breading, and the noodles were firm but not under done. I call this fancy comfort mac and cheese, and I really love it. The home made apple sauce had a very good texture and consistency, but it was overly sweet. I liked it, but too much would have thrown me into sugar shock I think. That being said, you can see what the plates looked like when we were through.
The service was slow at times, but the atmosphere, and the fact that it was Sunday morning, really made the wait for food seem nonexistent. Everyone was very friendly, and not fakely so, which I appreciate. After you place your order, at your table, the server brings out a placard with a letter on it; ours was the letter Y. This not only lets everyone know where the food goes, this serves as their payment guide. After you are finished you take your letter in to the cashier near the front. Hand them your letter and they hand you your bill! Make sure to grab a chewy on the way out 🙂 We had a great time. I would go back there without a question.