Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Vegan & Vegetarian Sprout on Spring Street

At least two or three times this past summer and fall, I spied an exuberant Ellis Grossman in his chef’s whites chatting with the good folks of Thackery Farms at their booth at the Charleston Farmers Market. Like me, he was shopping for the very best fresh and organic goods that can be found there.

It always makes me happy to see young chefs excited about beautiful food, something he puts to deliciously crunchy good use at his new restaurant, Black Bean Co., which opened in September. It joins a small but growing army of vegan/vegetarian/organic dining options popping up in this section of town near Upper King (Dell’z Deli) and along Spring Street.

It seems a bit lost amidst the melee of fast and soul food restaurants in this neck of the woods, but its presence is welcome, at least based upon my recent visit. Grossman chatted amicably with guests even as he answered incoming delivery calls with a cheery allusion to the restaurant’s “energy food” motto. The space is bright and light and full of happy colors and assorted attractive art, all by local artists. My favorite of these were the adorable, glossy and fragrant pie candles by Rachel Pitts of Pitts Wicks (www.pittswicks.com). They literally looked good enough to eat and briefly fooled even my very practiced pie (and tart) eye.

Settle into a long list of energizing breakfast, lunch, and super beautiful vegan dessert options here from soup to wraps to gyros to salads. Meat-eaters won’t despair with hearty offerings like the Honey Turkey Bacon Club ($9) or the Gouda Baby ($8) wrapped fat and round and plum full of chicken or turkey, gouda cheese, sweet peppers, arugula, sprouts, basil oil and Dijon mustard. Grossman tastily flexes his Culinary Institute of Charleston trained skills and palate across the board here, including in the meaty-though-vegan Portobella Wrap ($10, pictured) and Fresh Spring Rolls (2 for $4) I sampled. The mushroom was marinated in a pungent blend of vinegar, oil and herbs and woven into a garden-full of spinach, red peppers, and onions all wrapped in a pliant, fresh and delicious spinach wrap. Meanwhile, the slivers of red cabbage, carrots and more shone like gems through the translucent rice wrapper, all ready for dipping in a fresh ginger marmalade.

Grossman and our local farmers (Thackery Farms provides 80% of the produce here) deserve our support for all the goodness they provide. Black Bean Co. is just the place to do it.

Black Bean Co.
116 Spring Street (near Rutledge), downtown Charleston
(843) 277-0990
Carry-out, free delivery and catering
www.blackbeanco.com

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