Who knew when Dana and Julie started making and selling their OATS Granola a few years back that today they’d have a successful restaurant that people religiously flock to for breakfast and lunch? Of course, when you meet them and experience their passion, energy and strong work ethic you aren’t at all surprised. And, when you add the talented Chef Jess Bengston to hold down the kitchen, The Granola Bar really becomes a sure bet!
As if The Granola Bar wasn’t already rocking in its first year of business, there are some exciting changes to help take things up a notch starting Wednesday, November 5. Brace yo’selves because The Granola Bar will be open for dinner with extended hours of 7 am until 9 pm Wednesday through Saturday and regular hours 7 am -5 pm Monday and Tuesday, and 8am -4pm on Sunday.
In addition, they’ll be rolling out their third menu change since they opened, and spoiler alert, this new menu is awesome! Chef Jess shared that the inspiration behind these changes had to do with what was fresh and in season, which you can definitely see when you look at some of the dishes on the menu like their new amazing grilled cheese sandwich: The Post Road. This was one of the dishes that we tried on Wednesday during a preview tasting . . . and it also ended up being one of Chef’s favorite new items. She shared with us, “Anything that I’ve had total control over where I’ve made and worked with the ingredients is exciting to me like my apple butter. The soup is also something that I’m super excited about.”
The new menu will have some heartier (but always healthy) fall/winter dishes that will be available throughout the course of the day. So, you could come in at 8 am, noon, or even 8 pm, get some deviled eggs, get a breakfast sandwich, get a salad or a salmon tartine, or you could pick bigger dishes. It will also feature a special of the day and a soup of the day. And, when they say special, they actually mean it’s something special…like a Beef + Veal Bolognese served over spaghetti squash or a Thanksgiving Soup. All of these items from the menu show Chef Jess’s very careful refinement and precision as a chef, taking classic dishes and bringing them into her own realm to make them healthier without sacrificing taste. Trust us: we’ve had plenty of “healthy” food that tastes like cardboard, but this is SO NOT the case at The Granola Bar. Their dishes have flavor, they have spice, and they have flare. Actually, we were really surprised to learn from Dana and Julie that The Granola Bar has no stovetop. The Granola Bar has no fryer. Instead, they have an oven, to ensure everything is healthy and not soaking in grease.
Well, enough teasing, let’s dig on down to some of the items (bite-sized for the tasting) that you’ll definitely want to be ordering:
Thanksgiving Soup: turkey soup with stuffing croutons and cranberry drizzle. This was an excellent soup with such complexity: there was savoriness from the broth, that light taste from the delicate turkey, the croutons added a great crunch, veggies add more savoriness, and the cranberry drizzle added a tart punch. Really . . . it was like Thanksgiving Day in a bowl. We could’ve eaten a vat of this.
Candied Turkey Bacon Deviled Eggs: if there’s one thing that you need to order from The Granola Bar, it’s Chef Jess’s deviled eggs. She’s excellent at making these, so excellent people damn near ran others down for them at the Greenwich Wine & Food Festival. The candied turkey bacon was really the hero, delivering a sweet smokiness which balanced nicely off of the rich egg yolk mixture. The yolk itself was silky, but was balanced nicely with not too much mayo and mustard. In fact, Dan wanted to try it so much having heard Kristien rave about it, that he ate his first Deviled Egg in 30 years. Verdict? Awesome!
House Cured Salmon Tartine: avocado aioli and house cured salmon on multigrain. You can’t find many restaurants in the area that cure their own salmon, but they do it here! That of course gives them complete control of the flavors and textures that are going on. And, when that salmon is on this open faced sandwich, it definitely kicks things up a few notches. The avocado aioli was well-balanced and smooth as silk. This is a nice alternative to a bagel and lox if you want to order something that’s a bit lighter.
The Post Road: grilled cheese with brie, roasted turkey, sliced apples, and housemade apple butter on sourdough. This is a very well layered dish in every sense. It’s layered with crispy sliced apples, delicate melted brie, fresh turkey, and autumnal apple butter. This makes for a beautiful looking sandwich, but the flavors also mix in so well together. The star of the show is definitely the house-made apple butter because it brings out a little bit of sweetness that pushes the turkey and brie to a whole ‘nother level.
Baked Chicken Fingers. While this is on the menu for kids that might not want to be too adventurous, these guys can also be added to any of their salads as a topping. Starting off, Chef Jess makes ’em with whole wheat panko, Italian seasoning, and a secret ingredient that she won’t share with anyone. The end result is a crunchy panko coating with a juicy and flavorful chicken on the inside. They served this with a tangy and creamy roasted red pepper sauce that we enjoyed.
Chicken Paillard: pounded chicken breast with arugula, parmesan, and lemon vinaigrette. The chicken was full of flavor and juicy with a slight smokiness coming from the herbs. This was paired with flakes of parmesan that added a nice fattiness to cut into the bright and citrusy vinaigrette that Jess made.
Beef and Veal Bolognese with spaghetti squash. The bolognese itself was rich and had that bright tomato flavor that you look for in a good bolognese. This played very well off of the sweetness of the spaghetti squash. Yes it was rich, yet it was still lighter than a normal pasta dish of course. In other words, you can eat this and you won’t feel like you just gained 10 pounds of pasta weight.
Baked Apple Crisp: baked apple stuffed with cinnamon granola. The apple was cooked just enough to be soft and easy to eat, without being mushy. . . that’s no easy feat. The granola inside was cinnamony with nice tastes of oatmeal and brown sugar coming through and awakening the senses. This was really like an inside out apple pie and we could have eaten it all day.
Drinks from the Bar
Chai-der: chai and apple cider steamed together with cinnamon sugar rim. On a cold fall or winter day, we couldn’t think of anything better than this. The cider shows in the forefront of the taste with some spices from the chai coming through. The chai really balanced it out, preventing the cider from “punching you in the mouth” which cider can sometimes do if you know what we mean!
Turkish Latte: vanilla syrup, cardamom, cinnamon. When we’ve had Turkish coffee before, we’ve had mixed thoughts. Sometimes it’s been overpoweringly heavy on cardamom, making each sip almost seem like a chore. But not the Turkish Latte here! This was very well balanced while still letting the spices come through. A definite choice to try if you want something more than just a plain latte.
The Renovation: lightly sweetened espresso shaken with half & half. When we make iced espresso at home, this is how we love to have our drinks. It was creamy and was just sweet enough to hit the spot. Mmmm.
The Granola Bar fills a void that very few other restaurant have really been able to fill in Fairfield County. The void of delicious AND healthy food– the perfect combination of flavorful and creative food you can get excited about made from honest, quality ingredients that are prepared in a healthy way. If you haven’t been yet, it’s a must visit, and if you have been, it’s a must revisit for the new menu. Either way it’s a must, must!
The Granola Bar
Address: 275 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880