Taking a Good Bite out of local farms
Frequently when I eat lunch at The Good Bite Kitchen, someone comes in, takes a look at the menu, realizes it's all vegetarian, and then leaves.
Some people who do so are apologetic and some are embarrassed, but restaurant owner Kayte Billerman says she's OK with people leaving if they're not interested in her food. She's not trying to force anyone to eat anything they don't like!
But those who stop in and give it a try might just be surprised with how satisfied they are with their sans-meat meal. Kayte pays a lot of attention to making sure each dish is balanced with plenty of protein as well as grains and veggies to ensure that customers won't be hungry again an hour after eating. She says a common misconception about vegetarianism is that you never feel full. Most of her customers aren't even vegetarian; they are just looking for a healthy meal.
The Good Bite is located conveniently on Main Street, but it has such a tiny front door area that you might miss it. I'm not gonna lie, it actually took me a year or two to notice it after it opened. But if you're looking for it, you'll find it easily due to the bright green sign out front, and it's right across the street from one of Main Street's main parking lots.
Kayte got her start preparing foods and selling them at local farmers' markets after completing a six-month culinary program in Boulder, Colorado.
The space on Main Street, which at the time was a storage hallway next to a retail shop, was offered to her, though she didn't love the idea initially. But it grew on her and she accepted, taking six to eight weeks to convert the empty hallway into a restaurant with a kitchen in the back and six seats at a counter, along with a drink stand and a cashier stand, in the front. The Good Bite Kitchen officially opened July 5, 2012.
It can be tight inside, but it's still super cute and a great use of space. And Kayte always has it decorated with lights and flowers or whatever fits seasonally.
In the summer, there's room to eat outside, and if that fills up, the staff will give customers their order to go and direct them to a nearby park or other cool place to eat outside when it gets busy.
Kayte sources most of her food from local farms, including eggs and other dairy, and most produce besides things like avocados and citrus, which don't grow naturally here. She gets deliveries twice a week from Fledging Crow Farm in Keeseville and Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams, and she has also worked with several other local farms for veggies. Cheese and other dairy products come from farms like Sugar House Creamery in Upper Jay, North Country Creamery in Keeseville, and Aasgard Farm and Dairy in Ausable Forks.
It's a little more expensive to get products from local farms, but in the end it's worth it, Kayte says. The quality is better, and if for some reason she's not happy with an order — she didn't get the right things or the lettuce wasn't as fresh as it should be — she can call the farm directly and someone there will quickly make it right. It's important to Kayte to have a close relationship with the people growing the food she uses.
Because she's relying on farm products, the menu tends to shift regularly. When she first opened, her menu changed almost daily, but nowadays, menu items tend to stick around for at least a week.
And Kayte pays a lot of attention to seasonality in her choice of dishes, too. In the winter, she always has hearty stews, warm bowls that fill you up enough for an afternoon of skiing. I might have a little problem with her chili — I'm pretty sure there have been winter weeks when I've eaten it every single day for lunch.
And in the summer, there's always something light and delicious, like cold salads or bowls full of cold goodness. I first started eating there when a coworker told me, "Her house salad will change your life." I tried it, and indeed it did. So good.
She does great Asian dishes and other ethnic foods seem to come easily as well. And don't miss the drinks — she almost always has a black tea and a green tea, iced or hot depending on the season, and in the winter there's often a hot drink cider or some other drink as well. I got a little hooked on her spiced cider this winter, too.
Some of the best meals I've had there are bowls that sound like a completely random mix of ingredients, and I can't imagine the tastes blending together when I first read the menu. But I get adventurous and try them. They always end up being surprisingly coherent, and I end up gobbling them down like someone who hasn't eaten in years.
Pretty much anything Kayte makes is mouthwatering, delicious, and satisfying. But if you don't believe me, here's some more info to tempt your taste buds. Be sure to check out all the Instagram photos from people checking in to The Good Bite Kitchen. I start drooling every time I scroll through!
This week in ADK farm and mountain cuisine: