Between the Bread is so dedicated to seasonality, the fast-casual eatery changes its menu every month.
“We rotate our menu on a monthly basis to incorporate the ingredients that are in season that month — in February, we know that cabbage and mushrooms are in season, in March, parsnips,” says Jon Eisen, owner of Between the Bread. “It takes a lot of work. But we hope people view us as a very unique option in the fast-casual field.”
Between the Bread follows the protein-and-two-sides, build-your-own-plate model found at chains like Dig Inn, focusing on “chef-prepared, wholesome, high-end meals,” Eisen says. The team meets two weeks before the next month to finalize the menu and rotate out sides.
There are always a few grain options, from couscous to quinoa, and one of the most popular for February has been the pearl barley.
“It’s the fresh new one that everyone tries to get on their plate while it lasts,” Eisen says. “It’s just a really earthy, delicious grain.”
The grain is mixed with carrots and mushrooms, one of Between the Bread’s featured seasonal ingredients for February, and topped with almonds.
“The barley is an easy and forgiving grain to cook with as long as you use these wholesome, natural flavors,” Eisen says. “You don’t have to do a lot of work, just let it do the work on its own. We like to keep things simple and fresh, and let the ingredients speak for themselves.”
The storied Manhattan business has been around since 1981, serving seasonal fare at its Upper West Side eatery as well as through its catering arm. Last year, Between the Bread started to expand its cafes, opening a second location in November near Bryant Park. A third is opening in early March in Chelsea’s Terminal Warehouse, a Chelsea Market-esque, block-long building that’s home to a mix of retail, including Danny Meyer’s Porchlight and Tom Colicchio’s ’wichcraft.
“It’s a really cool building, I think it’s got amazing potential,” Eisen says. “It’s one of the last underutilized markets in Manhattan.”
Eisen hopes to open two new Between the Bread locations in Manhattan a year over the next three to four years.
“We’ve never wanted to exit the family-owned, mom-and-pop mentality,” he says. “We always want to keep that smaller level the focus, but at the same time, we want as many people to enjoy our food as possible.”
Pearl barley with mushrooms, carrots and almonds
Makes 2-4 servings
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 large portobello mushroom, gills removed, cap and stem sliced
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
5 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tbsp. sherry
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup toasted almonds, sliced
1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes. Add all mushrooms and carrots. Saute until mushrooms are golden brown and carrots are tender.
2. Bring broth, sherry and herbs to a boil in a pot. Add barley. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until liquid is almost absorbed and barley is almost tender, about 30 minutes. (Add 1 to 3 tbsp. water if the barley isn’t fully cooked once the mixture is dry.)
3. Mix in mushrooms and carrots.
4. Top with sliced toasted almonds.