■ Where: Olive Bean Natural Grocery and Cafe,
1404 James Blvd., Signal Mountain.
■ Phone: 423-414-5465.
■ Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
■ Price range: $2.50 for espresso to $12 for antipasto platter.
■ Alcohol: Beer.
Unless you’re on the mountain, it’s not exactly convenient to go up Signal Mountain Boulevard just for a meal. But, intrigued by a new natural grocery store and cafe rumored to have a delicious breakfast, I made the early morning climb up the mountain with my fiancé for a midweek breakfast date. In the hustle and bustle of this job, sometimes I need a morning pick-me-up.
Olive Bean Natural Grocery and Cafe not only makes you feel at home with its comforting seating, beautiful patio and friendly atmosphere, it’s also a great place to pick up a few specialty items you can’t find at the foot of the mountain. We almost came away with Benton’s bacon and some farm-fresh eggs, but I know we’ll be back soon.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Olive Bean offers a small but delicious selection of dishes that are fitting for a quick meal or a leisurely morning conversation. We went for breakfast, so of course we started with a cup of Velo coffee ($2). My fiancé and I eat yogurt and granola every day for breakfast, so we avoided the Toasted Muesli Yogurt with homemade vanilla yogurt and organic fruit ($6) and the daily baked item.
Instead, he settled on the Chorizo and Potato Frittata that came with a small spinach salad ($6.50). I stole a bite and thought it was filling, flavorful and, because it’s made with farm-fresh eggs, richer than something you might find elsewhere.
I can’t resist the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet,” so I ordered the English Crumpets ($4 for two) that came with a small side of fruit and honeycomb butter. The crumpets were small, rich, fluffy and absolutely tasty. The honeycomb butter made the perfect complement to the acidic blueberries. I would have liked one more crumpet, as they are small, but maybe next time I’ll get the Seasonal Vegetarian Frittata ($5.5) and we’ll split the crumpets.
Olive Bean also serves its own organic juice and smoothies ($5.5), small plates like the Cheese Platter ($10) and soup of the day. There are also sandwiches, such as the Roast Beef Panini with mushrooms and caramelized onions ($7), and salads, including the Mediterranean Quinoa ($7). I can imagine coming back for a beer and the half-sandwich and soup-or-salad combo for ($7). Everything is made fresh and with care, it shows, and makes it worth the trip.
Inside the Olive Bean, it’s a little dark. Half of the space has tables and chairs, for either meals or lounging, and the other half of the space is a small grocery and bulk bar. It’s beautiful with dark woods and warm colors, but I like to see what I’m eating and what I’m buying. I like the comfort of the place, but it needs to be a little brighter.
The patio, on the other hand, is lovely. Comfortable chairs and chic wooden tables don’t crowd the space, and there’s even a few couch-like pieces perfect for staying a while. A comically large mason jar held equally gargantuan sunflowers for a subtle and simple pop of color. The patio is also dog-friendly, with a large water bowl and jar of treats for your pooch to enjoy. The patio is also covered, which means the sun won’t harsh your meal.
It’s counter service, with a twist. Grab a drink from the cooler or order a coffee, glance at the menu, then take a number. If you’re smart, you’ll take a seat on the patio and your coffee will quickly follow. Within minutes, our breakfast arrived with a smile. Not only was our breakfast quick, it came with a refill of coffee. Important for people like me who subsist on multiple cups a day.
Service is friendly, but not overly so. We were waited on effortlessly, and the table was cleared with no pressure to leave anytime soon. The servers at Olive Bean want you to stay a while, but when you’re done, simply go up to the counter and pay.
I’m a beach girl, so driving the W Road and Signal Mountain Boulevard makes me nervous and I typically wouldn’t drive up just for nothing. But the Olive Bean makes a fine addition to what the mountain has to offer its residents, and I’m already thinking of our next morning hike followed by crumpets. Decently priced but completely decadent, the Olive Bean is a place I know we’ll return to when we want something special.
Contact Meghan Pittman at email@example.com or 423-757-6506.