Greening the ridge
Organic and natural menu at new Paradise café
I’d already gotten the good word from a friend of mine that Green Paradise Café, in (are you ready?) Paradise, serves up the kind of food that I like to eat—organic, homemade, tasty and nutritious. The café’s website notes that they use “all natural or certified organic meats that are grass-fed, with no hormones, no antibiotics and no nitrates. Produce is either certified organic or naturally grown and locally sourced as much as possible.” Additionally, many of their spreads and oils are organic or all-natural, and the pesto and dressings are house-made.
So, my 12-year-old daughter, Lydia (who is of a similar persuasion when it comes to food), and I took a drive up the hill on a recent sunny, crisp weekday to check out Green Paradise Café for lunch.
After being greeted by Paradise’s pretty snow-capped hills—the remains of the previous day’s snow shower—we were next welcomed by the restaurant’s cheery bright-green exterior. Having gotten there a little before noon, we were the only customers in the cozy eatery (a situation that changed as the lunch hour rolled around and the small dining room was filled almost to capacity).
While we stood at the counter perusing the menu, we were offered a sample of the soup of the day ($3.50 for a 12-ounce bowl), which is always vegan and gluten-free. That particular day’s soup was mixed vegetable—a delicately tasty, pureed, green-colored soup with whole kernels of sweet white corn.
Lydia was tempted to order the soup, but—bacon lover that she is—opted instead for a 12-inch Apple Bacon pizza ($12), made with red pesto and bacon containing no nitrates or nitrites. Other pizza options include Farmers’ Market Vegetable and Grilled Chicken & Pineapple (both $12), as well as Steak & Mushroom with garlic and grilled red onions ($14). Gluten-free versions of all pizzas are available for the same price as those containing gluten, but are 10 inches in diameter.
I chose a sandwich made with organic almond butter, organic chocolate-hazelnut spread, bananas and blueberries on multigrain bread ($4.95). We both opted for bottles of Bundaberg ginger beer to drink.
As the menu points out, the wait for a pizza is 20-30 minutes (this is not fast food, folks, and thank goodness). While we waited for our food, we observed the faster-to-make fare being delivered to diners around us. Of particular note was an eye-catching spinach-citrus salad (all salads, $7.50), featuring chicken pieces, feta-cheese chunks and almonds nestled in robust bed of bright-green spinach leaves. The man receiving that salad happily wolfed it down in short order.
Lydia and I both liked her pizza. The bacon on it was smoky and delicious. She ended up picking off the apple slices, but I ate them, along with the juicy, cold apple slices that arrived with my sandwich. Apples being in season, it made perfect sense that we were graced with a fair number of them. (After I helped my daughter eat part of her eight-slice pizza, we happily still had two slices left to take home).
My sandwich, which came grilled, was divine. The warm, oozing almond butter and Nutella-like spread combined with the cooked blueberries and bananas (sensuously reminiscent of Thai-style deep-fried bananas) to make for an almost-guilty pleasure—except that I knew it was good for me.
Lydia has insisted we go back to Green Paradise for some soup; I’d like to try a wild salmon-salad sandwich ($7.95) or spinach-strawberry salad.
One drawback: This great little eatery has no restroom available for public use. We were advised to walk down two doors to Jack in the Box—the antithesis of Green Paradise Café—to take care of our bathroom business.