The recently renovated Concord Co-op is home to the Celery Stick Cafe, a cafeteria-style hot bar buffet with a rotating menu. Now that there’s more room for more food options, as well as more room to sit and eat (and now that the meal isn’t accompanied by a cacophony of construction clatter), we figured it was a good time for the Food Snob to dine.
The hot bar is located in the back of the co-op. The menu, which changes daily, usually has about a dozen options; some vegetarian, some gluten-free, some meat, some stir-fry and so on. There are also a variety of soups. The hot bar food is a flat $8.99 a pound, so it’s pretty easy to get a sampling of a little bit of everything and still come in under $10. We loaded up our plate, grabbed some seltzer and dug in.
First, we sample the curried tempeh. The curry was more subtle than we expected, with the tempeh adding little more than texture to the mix of vegetables (onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and red peppers). It wasn’t bad, but there just wasn’t much to it.
Next up, we tried the pan-fried trout. It was topped with a dollop of bacon apple horseradish cream sauce that gave the whole thing a tangy, almost mustardy flavor. The trout itself was moist and delicious, chunky flakes of fish sliding apart at the touch of a tine.
We had a side of brussels sprouts, which were so tender that they almost melted in our mouth. They were prepared with pecans, and the savory crunch was the perfect complement. We also had a side of chipotle butternut squash, which was a surprisingly sweet and syrupy with the chipotle taking a backseat - nonetheless an excellent companion to our main dishes.
We had a chicken breast topped with cranberry-pomegranate chutney. The chicken was thick and juicy, but again, the chutney didn’t bring much to the table. Maybe if we had scraped around the chafing dish whilst serving ourself, we could have added that sweet-tart flavor we expected.
Another option we tried was lamb served Greek-style with freekah (wheat grain), onions, tomatoes, olives and feta. The choice, rare slices of lamb were delightful.
After all that, you might think the Snob would be stuffed, and you would be right. However, the Snob is not one to shirk his duties, and so we soldiered on; fortunately, we had saved the best for last. Our final dish was a sweet potato ravioli, ensconced in an alfredo sauce and sprinkled with melted cheddar. The ravioli was delicious, pasta firm and tender, filling sweet and sauce smooth and creamy. This was our favorite item of the evening.
The great thing about eating at the Celery Stick Cafe is that you can try a bunch of different foods in one sitting at a relatively inexpensive price. The ingredients are healthy and the hot bar setup ensures that you have your meal as fast as you can dish it out.