bread+bar: Unusual name, unique menu

Published 10:50 am Monday, January 27, 2014

The grilled tailgate lamb chops served at bread+bar. (Photo by Joshua Nowicki)

The grilled tailgate lamb chops served at bread+bar. (Photo by Joshua Nowicki)

BENTON HARBOR — Thoughtful food served in a thoughtful atmosphere.

From locally-sourced cheeses and homemade dressings, to a custom-made zinc bar and cobalt blue Italian water glasses, Tim and Pat Foley have carefully considered every detail that colors the bread+bar experience for their guests.

“What we do and our approach to food—our approach to service, our approach to the bar—every little thing is important to us here,” said Tim Foley. “Thought is put into every single thing.”

That careful approach has helped to create a casual yet elegant atmosphere for the restaurant that offers a gorgeous view of the St. Joseph River from 645 Riverview Dr.

“It’s really about doing something different and trying to step outside of the box. All of our food is made from scratch,” explained Foley. “We try to offer fresh food and not processed food, so that when people eat here, they feel good about eating here, and their bodies feel good after eating here.”

Much thought has also gone into the service that customers can expect when they visit bread+bar, whether it is for lunch, dinner or cocktails.

“You only have a certain amount of time for lunch. So, we designed our menu such that there’s not a lot of long-cooking things,” Foley explained. “So, it’s usually an 8- to 11-minute ticket time, so people come in and they get served quickly.”

In the near future, the owners of bread+bar plan to make it even more convenient for their guests to eat a healthy, freshly-prepared lunch by offering ready-made sandwiches so customers can “grab and go.” “Fun” options are also available for younger diners.

The dishes on the dinner menu have also been chosen with care, but the Foleys are not content to rest on their laurels.

“The menu is evolving. We’re very into changing things as we go. Every few weeks, we add a few things, or take some things off,” said Foley. “We try to do things that are a little bit more on the healthy side, but not like ‘boring healthy.’”

One of several current favorites is the tartine board.

“A tartine is basically ‘an open-faced sandwich’ in French,” Foley explained. “It’s served on a wood board, and it’s like grilled bread with various toppings, so we give you a choice of six different toppings, and you get three of those on the board. We do a smoked whitefish, we do a Spanish Serrano ham with a tomato jam and a manchego cheese, we do a fig and brie, so we do a lot of nice, different things.”

While the whitefish for the tartines is smoked on-site, the cheeses are supplied by Reny Picot in Benton Harbor. Chef Luke Caenepeel prepares other dishes with maple syrup from a farm in Niles, or kale from Green Sprit Farms in New Buffalo. All of the breads and desserts are supplied by Bit of Swiss, which the Foleys also own.

Bread+bar will be offering a special menu for the weekend of Valentine’s Day, beginning on Thursday, Feb. 12

“Our wine dinner is on Thursday the 12th, so we’re doing a wine dinner with a winery out of Oregon, Breeze Estate, and then after that, we’re going to have that same menu available on Friday and Saturday if people want that. We want to offer people something a little bit different,” Foley said.

Ruth Ryberg, certified sommelier and owner of Don’t Whine Do Wine, works with bread+bar to present monthly wine dinners such as this one, as well as monthly wine tastings.

“It’s really nice to have Tim to partner with,” Ryberg said. “This month, we’re going to feature four wines with a four course dinner at 7 o’clock.”

Also in February, Don’t Whine Do Wine plans to facilitate a wine tasting event called “Bootstrapping Reds” at bread+bar. More information on this and other monthly events can be found at and on their Facebook page. Their phone number is (269) 757-7219.

“We’re about creating something for the community,” Foley said. “It’s about introducing them to different wines that they normally don’t have, and also having our kitchen produce something different from our normal menu.”

bread+bar also offers a full-service bar for those guests who wish to stop in for a cocktail, a glass of wine, or one of the craft beers that they serve.

“We have a lot of specialty cocktails, things that are a lot of fun, but are outside the box and out of the ordinary,” Foley said. “We’re also very proud of our wines by the glass.”

bread+bar is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“I think we’ve been pretty well received,” Foley said. “People get into habits, and we want to be an option for that habit. If people come in, I think they’ll realize that there is a difference here.”