I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
Nestled in a neighborhood in Minneapolis, you will find the Birchwood Cafe. They have been serving local, sustainable, and organic food since 1995. Wether you are a meat-eater or a vegan, there is something for you here.
As you dig a little deeper you will see that they are much more than just a cafe. They have deep roots in the community. They sponsor a bike team, host screenings of food films, recruit people to help their farmers, and work with the Minneapolis Public Schools’ True Food Chef Council to provide fresh, healthy, local food in public schools. They also advocate for the labeling of GMO foods, raise funds for causes close to their hearts, are a CSA drop site for 8 farms, and compost and recycle more than 90% of the cafe’s waste and use solar energy for part of their power.
Wow. That is something I can get behind. That is somewhere I want to spend my money. When you go out to dinner, how often do you feel great about the money you’ve spent going to great causes and the food you’ve eaten doing great things for your body?
I seriously got goose-bumps reading their Kickstarter story. They needed to raise funds after outgrowing their space. They exceeded their goal and became the third-highest grossing restaurant Kickstarter campaign in the world. But that’s not the best part. The best part is the stories they received from past customers.
They received stories from a customer that credits their food for his cancer recovery, others from people telling about friends and lovers they met in line at the deli, of first dates that led to marriage, of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, and of gathering at the restaurant to plan trips around the world. So. cool.
Their food values are inspirational. They buy locally and are friends with the farmers they buy from. They use a cooperative model with their farmers so the farmers can plan their fields and they can plan their menus. They have seasonal menus that allow for fresh, local food in each season. They value transparency, and people and planet over profit.
If you go to their website, www.birchwoodcafe.com, you can order your food ahead of time or have it delivered. They also do catering.
On a recent chilly but sunny day in March, I met a friend there for lunch. It was very busy and we settled into the last open table. There were so many fabulous sounding choices on the menu it was hard to pick.
I finally landed on the Green Curry Entree. Here’s the description: Squash, root vegetables, kale, curried peanuts, sweet + spicy beets, tamari fried rice, orange, coconut broth. I also got a side of fries. I do not order french fries very often (because of the toxic oil they are fried in), so if I do, they better be made with great ingredients and taste amazing.
After grabbing my cup of herbal tea, we sat down. The fries came very quickly and our entrees didn’t take too much longer. The fries came with 2 delicious sauces. I saw that in their front case, along with some salads and desserts, they sell some of their made-from-scratch sauces.
The curry was amazing. It had a great depth of flavor and some unique ingredients.
I asked about the oil that the fries were fried in. The answer: rice bran oil. Since I didn’t know much about that oil, I didn’t eat the fries. Ha! Yeah right!!
I trusted that they know what they are doing at Birchwood, ate the fries, and did a little research when I got home.
I found several articles on it and found out that rice bran oil is non-gmo, and has a high smokepoint which means it doesn’t turn rancid when cooking at high temps.
Some of the cons are that it is highly processed and there’s not a lot of research on it’s health benefits. So I stick to olive oil, coconut oil and ghee at home, but this is a much better alternative to the gmo soy oil that many restaurants use.
I cannot wait to get back there and try some of the other amazing things on the menu. Even though they are a solid 30 minutes from my house, it is totally worth it. And in the summer they have some great outdoor seating right in front of the restaurant.
Keep up the amazing work Birchwood cafe and I will see you again very soon!