Sweet Beet Station opened early this year in the Depot Building near Talent City Hall. With plenty of outdoor seating overlooking the railroad tracks, the café is poised in warmer weather to do a brisk business for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, not to mention coffee and pastries.
Inside, the atmosphere is nearly as light and bright as it is outdoors. Talent’s Depot Building was rebuilt about a decade ago with historical accuracy from old photos, and the result is a soaring ceiling, tall windows and warm-toned woodwork throughout.
Just as wholesome and natural as its surroundings, the cuisine at Sweet Beet is strong on salads, soups and other dishes highlighting seasonal vegetables, a number of them organic. Also emphasizing the word “local” on its menu, Sweet Beet appropriately is located next door to Thrive, a nonprofit business-development organization that advocates for locally produced foods.
The biggest draw on my family’s recent visit, however, is Sweet Beet’s proximity to the region’s rail line, its crossing gates and signal posts, all fascinating mechanisms in the mind of my older son. Amusing restless kids is as easy as walking just a few steps from the restaurant, traversing the tracks, then back and forth, back and forth, until the food’s ready.
An emphasis on grilled cheese also makes Sweet Beet a hit with kids — and everyone who loves this classic sandwich, served plain ($7) or “fancy,” according to the week’s special menu. Sweet Beet’s recent variation on grilled cheese incorporated goat cheese, spinach and garlic-sautéed mushrooms ($9). I added a cup of the day’s minestrone soup ($5) to our grilled cheddar on sourdough.
I felt certain that my husband would be powerless to resist the “haute zephyr,” a rotating pulled-meat sandwich served on ciabatta ($10). The honey mustard mingled with the sandwich’s pulled pork usually is among his favorite flavors. But he opted instead for the “Z train” salad ($13), a hearty mixture of carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, organic greens and toasted almonds topped with roasted organic chicken and hard-boiled eggs from free-range hens, served with creamy blue cheese dressing and a demi baguette.
Eggs typically tempt my palate long past the mainstream time for breakfast. Fortunately, Sweet Beet extends breakfast into the afternoon. The meal is distilled to a few items: frittata ($11), blueberry pancakes ($11), two-egg breakfast ($9) and an egg sandwich ($9). Also tempted by grilled cheese, I chose the last in that list, which nestles a fried egg, spinach and tomato between the melted cheddar and slices of sourdough.
Served with fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes and cantaloupe slices) and impeccably fresh mixed greens with a light but creamy red onion-poppy seed vinaigrette, the sandwich is a good value. I requested mine without the spinach, but found that it also lacked the tomato, which would have cut through the richness of cheese, egg and mayonnaise.
For dessert, we all munched a wedge of Sweet Beet’s generously portioned chocolate-chip cookie ($3), tender and chewy inside, barely crispy and browned at the edges — just the way we like it. Peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles and chocolate-covered macaroons also were displayed on the pastry counter with fresh-baked scones and bagels served with cream cheese.
With such specialties as buttermilk biscuits with mushroom gravy and lemon-ricotta French toast, weekend brunch is more elaborate than Sweet Beet’s weekday breakfast. The rotating brunch menu and the week’s specials are posted to Facebook (facebook.com/sweetbeetstation). At 100 E. Main St., Talent, the restaurant is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 541-897-4447.