Bean Sprouts: Bebe Meals Restaurant Review

I’ll start this review by saying I’m a huge fan of Bean Sprouts Restaurant(s)! That being said I owe it to my readers to be 100 percent honest about Bebe B and I’s experiences eating out, and so I will. Many parents already know about Bean Sprouts, a restaurant unique in that is is designed for kids, oh and it’s actually HEALTHY food!! And did I mention grown-ups will love it too. Exciting news…they have now opened a second location in the brand new (completely amazing) Madison Children’s Museum. We recently ate there for lunch on our first (of many I am sure) trips to the new Museum. It was insanely busy, which is to be expected considering the museum just re-opened and all of the school aged children were still on summer break the day we went. That being said the adorable cafe, located in the DeAtley Community Concourse

Bebe B watching the water feature display

(you don’t have to be a member or have purchased museum admission to eat at the cafe), was handling the hoards of hungry, hungry patrons very well. The staff, which I recognized as Carisa Dixon (executive chef) and Shannon Payette Seip (co-founder) had smiles on their faces and welcoming words to say. I like the fact that the cafe is set up sort of a-la-carte, in that you can take your items from the coolers/ warmers and then pay for them at the register. This was smart for the environment and makes it easy to grab a quick snack any time. Of course it would be nice to have a couple extra hands to carry stuff, but that could be said pretty much about every aspects of motherhood. Bebe B had the “Noodle-Dee-Do” (whole wheat macaroni blended with cheddar cheese) and I had a “Bruschetta Chicken Sandwich” (grilled chicken, mozzarella, tomato and pesto). We also picked up some of our favorite sweet potato chips and we shared a mini cupcake. Bebe B has had the noodles (noonies) before and was happily eating them when I gave her the cheese from my sandwich (that darn lactose thing limits how much dairy I can tolerate) and after that all she wanted was my sandwich. She pretty much forgot about her noonies and ate almost half of my sandwich. I was happy to share with my girl. We were really having a blast despite that crowds. As you can see from the picture Bebe B was being quite silly. The mini cupcake was a wonderful little treat to finish up our meal. I scraped off the frosting (it was just a dollop of green on top) because I was unsure of what they use to color it and we try to avoid any artificial coloring, so I played it safe. I’ll try to remember to ask next time. It was chocolaty and not too sweet, just the perfect size to share with my bebe. (Ps. Is chocolaty a word? If not it should be) So over all our experience at the new Bean Sprouts in the Madison Children’s Museum was fabulous! We loved it and are looking forward to going again soon.

As for the Bean Sprouts flagship restaurant in Middleton, we have been there too (at least 4 or 5 times) the first being when Bebe B was 15 or 16 months. We never had a chance to try any of the homemade organic baby food on their menu but I love that they have it! You all know how I feel about homemade baby food!! The restaurant is adorable including fun touches like the kid sized door next to the regular sized door for entering and exiting the restaurant, a kids area full of play kitchen toys and a large chalkboard with plenty of chalk. Almost all of my experiences have been great at the restaurant. I love the “Turkey, Avocado and Tomato Wrap” and we always get the edamame and grape kebob for sides. Prices are reasonable and I would definitely recommend the place to anyone one with bebes or children. Also they sell their meals in different proportions: kid size, adult size and big daddy size. That being said I did have one less then pleasant experience back in May of this year. Bebe B and I had taken my mother there for a weekday lunch to celebrate Mother’s Day a little early. It was obvious when we walked in that it had been a very busy day and the one staff member working there looked as though she had been trampled by a heard of elephants. It was too late to go anywhere else so we opted to eat there anyway, as we only had 45 minutes left before my mom had to return to work. The floors were quite covered in food, but it is a kid’s restaurant and I could completely understand that. My floor looks like that everyday. (I’m not exaggerating when I say I have to sweep 6 -7 times a day) I could tell the staff member was overwhelmed, but I can understand that too, anyone who has worked in food service knows there are days like that. We ordered our food and Bebe B happily played with the toys. It was quite messy in the area but she was having fun none the less and her Nani was happy to have a chance to play with her. Another customer and her son came in, ordered food and sat down. Then another customer came in with a little one. They sat for a few minutes. By this time we had received our food and hungrily began enjoying our meals. It was then that the newest customer began to yell at the staff member telling her the place was disgusting and she was appalled and they were leaving (I’m sugar coating it a bit, she was quite rude). I certainly could understand the women’s frustration but her behavior seemed a touch extreme and uncalled for, especially in front of other customers while they are eating. It was one of those awkward situations that makes you feel all squirmy inside. I admit that the restaurant was not at it’s best that day but, even so the food was good and it was healthy and my bebe was happy. Anyone (or restaurant) can have a bad day but this is a local place that serves fresh, healthy food that is fun for kids (and adults) so this place is still at the top of my list. They also have cooking classes for kids and other events (check out their website for more information). (Kat from RM adds: I’ve heard great things about Bean Sprouts catering to parents and children with special dietary restrictions. They even have a section on their menu for those looking for foods that are free of gluten or milk or casein.)

Bebe B playing at the Bean Sprouts restaurant in Middleton, WI in April 2010

Once last thing to mention is their fun cookbook Bean Appetite (by Shannon Payette Seip & Kelly Parthen with Carisa Dixon). Love it! I am proud to have my own signed copy. (If you buy a copy at the store and any of the authors are working they are more than happy to sign it for you). It’s full of fun recipes, games and more and would make a wonderful gift for kids. I plan to make “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (based on the book by Eric Carle) for Bebe B’s upcoming birthday party of the same theme! Along with many of my own creations I have been working on (which I promise to share in the next month). If you would like this recipe, the Authors have shared it with Parents Connect, click HERE to view. Okay I think that about sums it up .. cool place with healthy food, one rough day, great new location, and fun cookbook!

Footnote: This is a completely unbiased review, I received no compensation for this review. We paid for our meals ourselves.

Bean Sprouts is located at 6719 Frank Lloyd Wright Avenue, Suite 101, Middleton, WI 53562 and inside the Madison Children’s Museum 100 N. Hamilton Street, Madison, WI 53703

Be sure to visit local mama Tara Verma’s Bebe Meals website for more restaurant reviews, Bebe Meals blog, and recipes!

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