As a restaurant at the forefront of Northern Michigan’s food scene, 9 Bean Rows and its fearless leaders have garnered a delicious reputation for integrating ingredients from self-managed farms and specialty Northern Michigan food finds into their cuisine. At the helm of the kitchen’s operations is Paul Carlson. A culinary transplant from the Detroit burbs, Carlson’s love of wood-oven cooking inspired his launch of the Hearth and Vine Café at Black Star Farms. There he met the farmer/artisan baker couple Nick and Jen Welty, and the three hatched a plan to open 9 Bean Rows, a farm-to-fork Northern Michigan restaurant and cafe in Suttons Bay. Heading into his second season, Paul talks about the virtues of simple food and shares a recipe for roasted asparagus salad. The following interview was first featured in the May 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
What’s the kitchen mantra at 9 Bean Rows?
Start with good ingredients and try not to screw them up. Our food tries above all to stay simple, rustic and good. There are no fancy dots on the plate. We take inspiration from European cuisines and make them our own with the ingredients available.
How does spring shape your menu?
It’s great to get out of the winter funk and eating kale all the time. I love working with asparagus, ramps and morels. Nick’s farm comes online, and that allows us a series of micro seasons that last into the fall.
Can we get a spring recipe from the 9 Bean Rows playbook?
Simple roasted asparagus salad. Toss fresh asparagus in a little olive oil and roast for 5 to 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Toss the warm asparagus with a little more olive oil and some lemon zest, season with fleur de sel and top with a poached egg and some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.