August 27, 2012LANCASTER — A new Main Street restaurant — the Moonbeam Café — officially opened at 7 a.m. on Saturday with 15 people lined up outside its handsome front door. An all-day "soft opening" had taken place on Thursday for friends and family, giving staff time to familiarize themselves with a new layout, new routines, new menus, and how to operate new kitchen equipment.
"We will run two different restaurants — one for breakfast and lunch with food that is fun, such as pancakes, fried chicken, and omelettes, the Kentucky Hot Browns and many other unique choices," explained owner-manager Dr. Christine Fatterusso. "Dinner will be a bit more formal and ... more romantic.
For the moment, the Moonbeam Café is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or longer, Wednesday through Sunday. It will not be open immediately for dinner.
"All of our baked goods are made in our bakery; every piece of bread is made here," Fatterusso said. "We have many choices for all kinds of diets, including gluten-free and vegetarian."
Breakfast pastry chef Stephanie Watkins of Whitefield, a 2009 WMRHS graduate who has taken culinary arts classes at White Mountains Community College, made plum streusel muffins on Thursday morning that combined both tart and sweet flavors.
Many vegetables, including fresh herbs, come from the Moonbeam Café Greenhouse that is now in full production, Fatterusso said. Chef Shannon Williams, the other half of the Moonbeam Café's management team, marveled at noon on Saturday how eager their first customers have been to experience the daytime menu headed by the promise: "Comfort Food at Its Finest."
"The town has done everything but lay down a golden sidewalk for us," Williams said. "Lancaster has the reputation of being welcoming, and that's just how we've found it!"
David Fuller, manager and co-owner of the Rialto Theatre, for example, used the movie marquee to announce its Café's opening to all passers-by.
The completely renovated restaurant is bright and welcoming, featuring wide white pine floorboards, shiny light-colored tongue-and-groove ceiling, creamy textured plaster walls, painted wainscoting, Italian-style pendent lights and ceiling fans. But, as Fatterusso noted, the evening ambiance will be more subdued and the waitstaff will wear evening uniforms.
Brown mahogany stained and black painted tables and chairs plus square white plates, highlighted by attractive mirrors and photographs, make the dining areas both attractive and inviting. The Double S occupied the space for many years, and the Double S Dragon Chinese closed in Sept. 2007.
The breakfast menu includes a Fair Grounds Big Breakfast and French toast and pancakes with N.H.-made real maple syrup and freshly whipped maple butter. The lunch menu includes a variety of "stacked" Angus beef burgers and large beef, chicken, turkey and fish sandwiches, plus a grilled veggie one.
A sample menu indicates that dinner desserts will include Belgium chocolate ganache with raspberry sauce, the Café's signature carrot cake, warm banana bread pudding, and plum and blueberry almond crisp.