On the Menu: Brightside Cafe opens; Metal Works has new owners; B-Town Restaurant Bingo

The year is getting off to an exciting start in Bloomington's dining scene. Two new restaurants recently opened in well known locations downtown, one in Fountain Square and the other on Sixth Street.

Brightside Cafe, a gluten-free bakery, opens in Fountain Square

Brightside Cafe opened Feb. 2 in the former Bowls 4 Boots location at 101 W. Kirkwood Ave., Suite 021. Some longtime Bloomington residents will remember it as the former Stefano's location in the lower level of Fountain Square.

The new cafe offers gluten-free food, coffees and teas and is a collaborative effort between co-owners Abe Carney, John Moore, Thomas Moore and Elissa McKee. Thomas Moore and McKee also own 1823 Bakehouse in Franklin, which serves many gluten-free products as well. Some people may know Carney from Crumble Coffee and more recently Village Pub, Brilliant Coffee and Nourish.

Abe Carney, one of the co-owners of Brightside Cafe, stands behind the counter on Feb. 2, 2024, the first day the cafe opened its doors in Fountain Square in downtown Bloomington.
Abe Carney, one of the co-owners of Brightside Cafe, stands behind the counter on Feb. 2, 2024, the first day the cafe opened its doors in Fountain Square in downtown Bloomington.

Brightside Cafe uses the gluten-free rice flour blend created by 1823 Bakehouse for its pastries, cookies, biscuits, muffins, coffee cake and other items. The cafe will have biscuits and gravy (half and full size), quiche with rotating flavors including meat and veggie served with fruit, a biscuit sandwich and peanut butter bars. The banana bread, chocolate fudge brownie and double chocolate muffin are also dairy-free and the coffee cake is dairy-free and vegan.

Brightside' lattes, espressos, shaken espressos and iced coffee drinks are made with coffee from Needmore Coffee Roasters, the tea is from Cup & Kettle Tea Company and the cold-brew is from Stir Coffee. Other beverages include Italian sodas and bottled water.

Brightside Cafe opened Feb. 2, 2024, in the lower level of Fountain Square. The cafe serves gluten-free pastries and other baked items along with coffees and teas.
Brightside Cafe opened Feb. 2, 2024, in the lower level of Fountain Square. The cafe serves gluten-free pastries and other baked items along with coffees and teas.

Hours are 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The owners expect those hours will expand as will the days open. They anticipate adding lunch options to the menu as well.

Metal Works Brewing reopens under new ownership Thursday

Metal Works Brewing Company will reopen under new ownership on Thursday, Feb. 8. It will fill the 12 taps with the beers it brews in the basement at 108 E. Sixth St., and the food is expected to stay much as it has been since it became Metal Works, according to owner Adam Sulinski. One or two ciders from Friendly Beasts Cider Company will remain on the drink menu.

When it reopens, Jon Patrick will remain head brewer and Tim Lukasik still will be chef. In the future, Patrick may bring back some of the beers that were on the Function Brewing list, Sulinski said, but most will be Patrick's creations, from seasonal brews to ales and IPAs.

Seating for about 70 in the restaurant will remain much as it has been, and the outdoor patio will be reopened in the warmer months. The plan is to add acoustic music on evenings. Currently, Sulinski is looking for local musicians to perform.

The food menu will have flatbreads including the smoked chicken pesto and spicy pepperoni parm. The mac and cheese variations include a buffalo mac and cheese with house-made buffalo mac dip and noodles topped with crushed corn chips and white cheddar cheese that's been oven-baked. Other finger foods are wings, mozzarella sticks and truffle parm fries. There are also sandwiches, including barbecue pork.

Sulinski said Metal Works will have special events, including for Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 11, with beer and food specials. He also plans to have changing food and beer pairings. Flights with a selection of four beers are already available. Sulinski wants to add more options to the flights, and plans to offer a flight of all 12 beers currently on tap.

Sulinski also is looking for artists and collectors willing to sell or share their metal work creations so they can be displayed on the walls or in the windows of the brewery.

Hours at Metal Works Brewing will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For the latest, check out Metal Works on Facebook and Instagram.

Lennie's celebrates Mardi Gras with special menu, Valentine's with love letters

Lennie's will have special Mardi Gras dishes available 4-9 p.m. Feb. 12 and 13. Shrimp and crab bisque, red beans and rice and Cajun barbecue shrimp will be special starters.

Entrees will be gumbo with chicken, Cajun sausage and blackened shrimp cooked with peppers, okra, onion and tomato and served with rice; Po' Boy with a choice of fried green tomato or fried shrimp on a toasted baguette along with iceberg lettuce, tomato and spicy remoulade served with red beans and rice; blackened catfish filet topped with crab stuffing and spicy remoulade served with red beans and rice; and barbecue shrimp linguine with tomatoes, artichoke hearts and spinach.

The special dessert will be bananas foster created with sauteed bananas in rum with housemade banana bread and vanilla bean ice cream.

Lennie's Valentine's Day special isn't food for the stomach but instead food for the soul. The restaurant will offer an adult version of the school valentines classmates handed out. Lennie's has four custom-designed Valentine's postcards. Guests can choose one, address it to a loved one, drop it in the Magic Mailbox and Lennie's will add postage and mail it.

Lennie's is at 514 E. Kirkwood Ave. For reservations or more info, call 812-323-2112.

Want to play bingo? Here's the restaurant version for Bloomington

Samantha Ezzo, co-owner of Lennie's, has teamed up with other Bloomington restauranteurs to create B-town Restaurant Bingo. It's a way to highlight some of the local restaurants and help drive sales during slower winter months.

To play, people can pick up a bingo card at Lennie's, Orbit Room, Chocolate Moose, Southern Stone, Hive, Upland Brewing, Gables Bagels or Roly Poly. There are nine bingo squares with sayings like "Invite a friend to lunch or dinner" and "Try a new spot." People complete as much of the card as possible in the month of February and return the card to a pick up/drop off location. FARMbloomington and Cardinal Spirits are locations to pick up or drop off the bingo cards. Both will provide gift cards for the prize drawing that happens once the game is over on March 7.

All the cards will be gathered together and winners will be randomly selected to receive gift cards from the participating restaurants as well as Pizza X and Scenic View.

Chef's Table offers Super Bowl and Valentine's Day specials

Chef's Table Catering is offering some dips and wings for the Super Bowl as well as a tasty dessert for Valentine's Day. Game Day specials include 6-pound dips of buffalo chicken, spinach or queso for $25 each and trays of wings. The Valentine's Day special is a four-pack of red velvet cupcakes each with a chocolate-dipped strawberry on top. The four-pack is $24.

Orders are due by Feb. 7 and can be picked up on Feb. 11 from 2 to 6 p.m. Orders can be placed on Chef's Table Catering's Facebook page or call 812-287-8016. Chef's Table is at 3860 W. Third St.

Bloomington Bagel offers special Valentine's Day bagels

Bloomington Bagel Company will hand-make special red, heart-shaped bagels for Valentine's Day. Each bagel will be boiled and baked in their hearth oven. Orders will be taken until 6 a.m. Feb. 12 online at http://tinyurl.com/5bwcw32u or at one of the shops, at 113 N. Dunn St., 238 N. Morton St. or 913 S. College Mall Road. Pick-up will happen only on Feb. 14.

Owner Suzanne Aquila suggests people might want to order the new S'Mores Iced Latte when they stop by one of the Bloomington Bagel Company shops.

Contact Carol Kugler at ckugler@heraldt.com or 812-331-4359

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Gluten-free bakery Brightside Cafe now open, Metal Works has new owners