Review: Beezy's Cafe
Mayhew bakes fifteen to twenty-five loaves of bread daily-sourdough, rye, cracked wheat, and veggie-and the sandwich slices are hand-hewn, thick, and uneven. The fillings make liberal use of fresh herbs. I found myself going back for the egg salad on soft cracked wheat, the bread providing a fine platform for a retro mustardy mix reminiscent of dev-iled eggs. The "Chicksilanti" is delicious, with clean-tasting roasted chicken and lots of celery, mayo, and fresh herbs. It's "topless"-that is, open-faced-in a nod to Deja Vu across the street.
Mayhew bakes a few sweets from scratch or almost scratch-scones, lemon bars, and cinnamon buns-none of which I tried. She gets brownies and cupcakes from Erin Kelley's tarte bakery, and coffee cake from Tim Edinger of Old World Bakery. I did sample Beezy's coffees, which are very good; Mayhew uses Intelligensia coffee beans, roasted in Chicago.
Beezy's predecessor in this space, the Oasis Cafe, a project of Belleville's Power Centre Church International, aimed to provide affordable warm meals and a friendly gathering space. For whatever reason, that model didn't work, but it seems like Beezy's has taken on a similar role. It's one of those places, like Zingerman's (of which Mayhew is an alumna), that can lift a neighborhood. It is already an integral part of the social fabric and even contributes to the neighborhood agricultural scene. Mayhew sends her scraps to be composted to the Growing Hope hoop house a few blocks away. Growing Hope sends back veggies like spinach and cilantro grown right down the street. You may not know all these back stories when you eat at Beezy's, but their sum shines through in the dining experience.