I love the smell and sound of breakfast, the warm waves of freshly brewed coffee and baked biscuits wafting in the air. Mix that with the songs of steaming milk, grinding coffee and sizzling bacon. It’s the divine symphony of a breakfast restaurant. Breakfast is the meal that sets the tone for the rest of the day and my favorite meal to eat.
These beautiful sounds are heard daily at The Biscuit & The Bean cafe, 168 Beacon Drive, Winterville. The inside is artfully decorated with mismatched tables, chairs in all sizes, shapes and colors, cozy reading nooks and a library of books and games. Inspirational quotes like “gather together and give thanks” decorate the walls. It’s a place for folks young and old to meet and catch up. What better way to do that than to sip coffee and eat a biscuit?
Co-owners are Laura Smith and son, Josh Smith, along with help from Laura’s dad, BJ. Opening a restaurant was not on their radar three years ago, but the opportunity presented itself and they took their love of cooking and Josh’s love of coffee and turned it into a homegrown restaurant with the community at its core.
They want you to come in and feel like family. That’s why the tables and chairs are all different just like we are. “There is no label at the table here, everyone is family,” Laura said. Her love of cooking came from her grandparents and she has incorporated family recipes because family and food go hand-in-hand.
She started entering her grandparents’ recipes in the fair — not the county fair like her dad thought but the N.C. State Fair that boasted stiff competition — and she won. Her only regret is it wasn’t done when her grandparents were living.
She has a lot to smile about, too, with her most recent win. A General Mills rep urged her to enter a national food competition. With five hours to spare, she created a divine pear and cream cheese tart that earned her first place in the 2019 Neighborhood to Nation Contest. She was stunned, but said her win would not be possible without the support of the community. “Baking for me is therapeutic, and the community has been a great source of comfort for me. I love cooking for customers and knowing that if someone is having a bad day, our food can brighten their mood. I know God has me right where I’m supposed to be and I’m blooming where I’ve been planted” Smith said.
The diverse menu features traditional biscuits, specialty biscuits, sandwiches, wraps and soups as well as farmer’s market salads, assorted brunch options and a tempting and decadent drink menu. There is no item over $10, so anyone can afford to come and have a big meal for a little price.
Some of my favorites include the Goat Panini, which is made with turkey, goat cheese, Granny Smith apples and pepper jelly on sourdough bread. The Halligan wrap is a fried chicken tenderloin with a sweet tea glaze, lettuce, tomato, onion and Gouda cheese. There is even a classic southern inspired Waldorf salad made with tossed summer greens, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, apple, red onion, celery, strawberries and sweet potato biscuit croutons drizzled with an apple cider vinaigrette.
The Biscuit & The Bean also is known for its coffee creations. There are so many delectable drinks to choose from including cold brew, nitrous coffee, traditional coffees such as cappuccinos, lattes, cafe Macchiatos and Americanos. You can also select a specialty coffee like the peppermint patty, fire breather with a bit of sweet heat, or maybe a white chocolate humble bumble.
I started my tasting with a warm winner. One of my favorite creations is the Lavender fields latte with soy milk. This fragrant, rich brew is made with fresh ground coffee with ribbons of silky steamed soy milk and subtle hints of lavender. For all of those people who think lavender is only meant for lotions and plant holders, you are missing out on a multitude of health benefits. Lavender helps with digestive upset including nausea and helps relieve headaches and toothaches. The lavender is just a hint, not too overpowering. This latte was smooth and dreamy, a perfect morning pick me-up.
Now that we have had a bit of coffee, we need a biscuit. One of their most popular is the sweet potato biscuit coated with a layer of cinnamon and sugar, and served with a dollop of homemade cinnamon honey butter. It has such a beautiful biscuit rise and is rich and decadent, but retains its fluffy inner biscuit texture with warm cinnamon and a creamy finish with the honey butter. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch and dessert. It’s easy to see why it’s one of their most popular items.
Now let’s talk about their breakfast platter. It starts with a glossy homemade butter topped biscuit filled with hoop cheese (or toast) paired with two eggs any way you like, bacon or sausage, and home fries or grits. The biscuit was freaking amazing with the sharp bite from the orange hoop cheese. Put that cheese in a pool and I’m jumping in for a swim. It melts in your mouth along with the soft biscuit backdrop. I opted for crispy bacon and hand-cut home fries to round out my platter. How can you not have a good day after eating a meal like that and for less than $10?
Next I tried the unique cheese-steak biscuit which is a fluffy biscuit filled with shaved steak mixed with sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms with cheddar cheese. It tasted like a Philly cheese-steak sandwich. It has drippy cheese and was meaty and woody from the first to last bite. It pairs beautifully with any of their soup options for a meal sure to warm you inside and out on a cold day.
Now let’s move on to one of their favorite lunch options, the Mr. Smith chicken salad sandwich. Laura’s dad, BJ, created and makes the chicken salad and it has all of the elements that make for a great southern salad. It has celery, sweet pickles and mayonnaise and it’s served with tomato and Romaine lettuce on toasted sourdough bread. It has a tangy flavor with a sweet pickle twang and tastes quite lovely. This would make for a perfect luncheon platter, and you can take a pint home with you too in case you want to put it on crackers or take it to a picnic.
The Biscuit & The Bean can accommodate holiday luncheons, book club events and has a private meeting room called The Watson, which can hold around 30 people. You can also book them for your next on-site or off-site catering event. You can customize your menu to fit your event needs. They will soon have a food truck too.
Don’t forget to place your order for pies, cakes, take and bake biscuits and casseroles, as well as bread pudding and turkey dinners.