GLASTONBURY — Some restaurants focus on tradition; family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Then there are those that aim to break away from tradition and shatter norms, creating a melting pot of American cuisine.
That’s what Kathy Denisiewicz has been doing for 24 years with The Spicy Green Bean on New London Turnpike.
The Spicy Green Bean started in Old Wethersfield, she said, in 1998 before moving across the street from its current location on Hebron Avenue.
“When I opened the Bean in Wethersfield, I was just making soup and sandwiches,” she said. When they moved to Glastonbury they added breakfast and dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. With the latest location, The Spicy Green Bean added a bar.
“He’s a master,” Denisiewicz said of his bartender and niece, Jenna Rosella. “She makes all these cocktails that are just crazy.”
Don’t let the name fool you, The Spicy Green Bean is neither vegan nor vegetarian. Instead, the name comes from a rather exuberant weekend in Provincetown, Massachusetts, 29 years ago.
“I walked by Vorelli’s and it said ‘The World’s Best Bloody Marys,'” Denisiewicz said. “They served it with a spicy green summer and a glass of beer. I said, ‘If I ever open a restaurant, it will be called The Spicy Green Bean.” Five years later, I did.
On the surface, Spicy Green Bean’s menu looks like standard pub fare, but on closer inspection there are a few quirks for good measure.
“The sure-fire way to say it’s American with a twist,” Denisiewicz said, describing the menu. “It’s very eclectic.”
For example, if you look at the burger section of the menu, you will find items like the Ahi Tuna burger with sesame crusted ahi tuna steak, seaweed salad, greens, tomato, mayonnaise with wasabi, Asian mango glaze and crunchy cucumber; or the burrito burger, an eight-ounce Angus beef burger stuffed in a wrap, greens, bacon, tomato, shredded cheddar, sour cream, refried beans, cilantro, pico de gallo , pickled onions, served with cheese fries.
“She told me a long time ago that she would leave a pen and paper by her bed and wake up with an idea, write it down,” Rosella said of her aunt.
“I don’t think anything is wrong,” Denisiewicz said of his concoctions. “I made different variations of the basic cubano. I made the traditional with pickles, mustard, and twisted it where it’s BBQ pork, pickles, mayo, mustard over fried dough and folded it over. It’s super yum.
“We make empanadas,” Rosella said. “Empanadas change all the time. We have a standard cheeseburger empanada, then we do chicken fajita empanadas, we do meatball empanadas, we do steak and cheese empanadas. We have spring rolls during our happy hour. We had Reuben and before that Buffalo Chicken, and Chicken Parmesan Spring Rolls.
The dinner menu changes daily, she says.
“You can come here every day and dine differently,” Rosella said.
The same goes for Sunday breakfast, Denisiewicz said.
“Chef LJ Wright, he created the breakfast menu,” she said. “He’s a breakfast superstar. We have been doing breakfast for years and he has never repeated the same specialty on a Sunday. I don’t know how he did it. It is on a mission to never reproduce.
“We try everything,” she said of her menu. “We try to mix Asian and Hispanic. We are known for our soups. These change all the time. They are all homemade. »
With such a menagerie of recipes, Denisiewicz says she encourages her staff to be creative.
“I want this place to be fun,” she said. “I don’t want them to come here bored, receiving a salary. Whatever you do, make sure there’s a funky twist somewhere.
Another one of those funky twists is LJ’s PB&J Wings, which are peanut butter and jelly wings.
“We’ve been doing this for at least 13 to 14 years,” Denisiewicz said.
“We have the best wing period,” Rosella said.
Those might be some of the quirks, but there are indeed favorites, including shepherd’s pie, Denisiewicz said, which has multiple layers, including a layer of sweet potato.
Other customer favorites on the menu are The Gobbler, Shaved Oven-Roasted Turkey, Herb Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Grilled Sourdough Mayonnaise; and purple goat cheese, crispy eggplant over grilled herb focaccia, roasted red peppers, melted goat cheese and provolone, greens, vine tomatoes, garlic herb aioli and balsamic glaze.
“I’ve had it on the menu since day one,” Denisiewicz said of The Gobbler. “If I ever thought of taking it off, they would kill me.”
Even the cocktails go crazy.
Created by Rosella, the cocktails are not only provocative in name, but also in flavor, with names like Fiddle My Bean, Tickle My Pickle and Nightmare on Bean Street.
“She’s young, she’s got the vibe,” Denisiewicz said. “She’s gorgeous. Everyone loves her.
“The Tickle My Pickle comes with pickle whiskey and it’s really hard to find different flavors,” Rosella said. “Most people just want to shoot it. So how can I make it taste good and I figured it out with pickle juice, honey and sriracha. In a way, sweet, sour and spicy is really good.