By Ann JamiesonITWPA MemberPhotograph by Melanie Acevedo Fresh, locally-sourced food prepared by a Le Cordon Bleu (Orlando) trained chef at affordable prices in a comfortably casual environment defines northwest Connecticut’s Mountainside Café. In order to secure the freshest food, Chef David Gilmore chooses the closest available sources. “Cooking for me is a passion. I believe you don’t have to overthink or complicate recipes. It is important to use farm fresh ingredients from local farms. You must respect the ingredient used: this leads to incredible taste and experiences for our guests.” While produce is mainly organic, equally important is that any animals used in the menu are properly fed and cared for throughout their lives. Veal, for instance, comes from calves raised in the field, not chained in place in wooden crates. Providers for the café include the Kent Land Trust organic farm, Arethusa Farm (a dairy famed for its prize-winning Jerseys, Holsteins, and Brown Swiss cows whose motto is “milk like it used to taste”), and Dole and Bailey, which traces its beginning back nearly 150 years to Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. While the menu changes constantly according to season and what is available (providing a creative challenge to the chef), what doesn’t change is the quality. A recent visitor to the café, herself a chef, said, “I am so picky about food and I love this place. Their menu is bold; there is nothing boring. You can always find something new to try every time you go back. The portion size is excellent, the presentation great, and the pricing is very reasonable. Plus it’s a lovely place to be; the design is stylish and sophisticated.” A New Yorker driving through the area raved as he exited the café. “This place is amazing! You won’t find better food anywhere in New York!” Meat eaters have plenty to tuck into, including Fish of the Day, pork (Thai Roast Pork Lettuce Wraps), and locally-sourced ground beef and turkey meatloaf. A Barbecue Shrimp Po-Boy consisted of sweet, tender shrimp with a tangy sauce on a crunchy baguette, a perfect interplay of textures and flavors. Vegetarians also enjoy a wide selection, with choices such as Roasted Cauliflower Salad with hazelnuts, parsley, and sherry vinaigrette, and an Avocado Sandwich with cheddar, sprouts, red onions, tomatoes, and chipotle aioli on multi-grain bread. Gluten intolerant? Never fear. Mountainside can feed you admirably. In addition to serving its customers outrageously good fare, Mountainside Café serves another mission. As an integral part of Mountainside Treatment Center (a drug and alcohol rehab center located in Canaan, Connecticut), the café draws much of its staff from the Center’s extended care clients. While serving its customers, Mountainside Café is, as well, serving its staff. The goal, says a Center spokesman, “is not to turn out bus boys, servers, and dishwashers,” but instead “to help people transition back to sobriety in a work environment.” While Mountainside customers are enjoying a great meal, they are also part of a transforming mission, thus nourishing both body and soul. Mountainside’s formerly dark interior underwent extensive renovation recently and was reborn as a bright, inviting space. The pine beadboard with natural finish that had covered the walls was whitewashed, and the coffee bar was redone with a Caesarstone surface and white subway tile walls. To sample Mountainside Café’s fabulous fare stop by any day between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. The café serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and brunch on the weekends; takeout is also available. In addition, they are open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights until 9 p.m. Located at 251 Route 7 in Falls Village, Connecticut, the café can be reached at (860) 824-7876. If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.