Honestly, I’m getting a little burnt out on restaurant reviews. Maybe the bar has simply been set high, maybe my exceptions are simply too high. Lately, I seem to be disappointed and frustrated again and again in my attempts to find a place to review. It is a reoccurring theme that we find a place where the adult menu is creative, healthy...inspired and the kid’s menu is...blah! I keep telling Dee if someone would open a place in this town where they took equal time developing the adult menu and the children’s menu they could clean-up! Which brings me to my review for the week, a bit of a let down to be honest.
I decided Bebe B and I would check out Cool Beans for lunch. It is a coffee shop/ cafe located on the East side of town near the mall. I hadn’t been there in years (since the study group days back in college) and remembered they had a kid’s play area. I hadn’t looked up the menu ahead of time since it was a last minute decision, which may have also contributed to my disappointment. I’ll start with the kid’s area. It was a nice little size and had some toys. I could see a little effort might go a long ways in shaping it up a bit but overall it was nice that they had it and it was clean. The cafe itself is cute and gives off a cozy vibe. As for the menu, there were plenty of healthy options for adults, I decided to go with a salad (which was very good). The kid’s menu had two choices: grilled cheese (american cheese on white) and Peanut butter and Jelly on white, both priced at $3.49. I noticed the grilled cheese was also listed on the adult menu but served with real cheese and multigrain bread. Um, hello? The person taking my order was very nice and answered all my questions. He said they could substitute any bread and cheese on the grilled cheese so I was able to order Bebe B provolone on whole wheat bread, I tasted a tiny bite and it was good. Bebe B like it too. The two kid’s items on the menu came with goldfish crackers, which no longer use artificial color or flavors. I would have loved to see it come with baby carrots or fruit though. Bebe B wasn’t interested in them at all though. Also the meal came with juice. Bebe B doesn’t drink juice and the juice was not organic. They also carry chocolate and 2 % milk, also not organic (Kemps). To be comprehensive I asked about the Peanut butter and jelly. Neither where natural or organic, the jelly was Smuckers. Bebe B and I ended up splitting a smoothie which of course made her over the moon happy. We opted for the blue cow which was blueberries, peaches, apple juice and honey but we had it without the honey. It was plenty sweet and I think the honey would have been a bit much.
Just to note I looked up the ingredients in the Kemps chocolate milk and the Smuckers Jelly:
Kemps Chocolate Milk Ingredients: MILK, SUGAR, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, DEXTROSE, STARCH, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR
Smuckers Grape Jelly Ingredients: GRAPE JUICE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, PECTIN, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM CITRATE.
Over all this place has major potential, in my opinion. It’s already a local restaurant in a great location. It has a kid’s area that with a little sprucing would be great! What I would love to see them do is add in more local and organic foods and make the items on the kid’s menu fun and healthy. A little creativity goes a long way. I’m not saying it isn’t a good option for parents ever, it’s certainly healthier than some other lunch options but I really think they could do so much better. But maybe that isn’t really important to them right now. Bebe B was the only child in the cafe, while we were there, but it was certainly busy with customers sipping coffee and typing away at their computers. Another lesson to take away from this review is always ask about substitutions. They had no problem changing the bread and cheese in Bebe B’s sandwich so I’m glad I asked. I wish I could do better but I can only give Cool Beans half a thumbs up but they have potential for more...they really do.
Footnote: This is a completely unbiased review, I received no compensation for this review. We paid for our meals ourselves.
Cool Beans is located at 1748 Eagan Rd, Madison, WI 53704 Madison, WI 53715