A parent’s dream café and buttermilk-brined roast chicken

Manager Kim and owner/operator Kiran Khatkar offer a bit of something for everyone at Little Beans Play Café. photos Tara McIntosh

There is a little piece of Paris in the heart of Port Moody – a spacious lively café that’s chic, sleek and bougie. The air is filled with the rich aroma of coffee and the room is packed with spirited raconteurs, moody artists, thinkers, and comedians who have come to eat, drink and play.

It’s The Little Bean’s Play Café and it’s every parent’s dream!

A beautiful indoor playground/restaurant/coffee shop/daycare and gathering retreat for young kids, their caregivers, or for anyone who’d like to soak up the ‘little Einstein’ atmosphere with a cappuccino and white chocolate blueberry waffle.

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The impressive menu, however, does not stop there. The Little Bean’s Play Café serves both breakfast and lunch with lots of healthy epicurean options. You can get a panini or salad if you like and the little beans can have grilled cheese, pancakes and a tapas box with hummus or turkey, just to name a few items.

Owned and operated by Kiran Khatkar, a bright young mom of two and licensed early childhood educator, The Little Bean’s Play Café was a dream that became reality after visiting another play café and wishing there was something closer to home she and other parents could enjoy. Together with her husband and his restaurant know-how, they began to look for a space in 2020, just as the pandemic struck.

“Of course COVID delayed our plans like everyone else, but we lucked out because this space wasn’t even available then!” To complete their dream of opening Little Beans, they needed someone with café and coffee expertise so Kiran called on her good friend Kim, a vibrant Mom of four who now manages the café .

Not surprisingly, the café has been a real hit with parents, many of whom live in the area. As I take in this splendid atmosphere it’s clear Kiran has put considerable thought into creating, as many European countries have always done, a social space that brings parents and their kids together in a mutually enjoyable environment. Parents don’t have to wear a clown nose or endure something too bouncy and junior doesn’t have to ask repeatedly, “Can we go now?” With everyone’s nervous system intact, It’s a win-win.

While parenting is wonderful, it can also be lonely and isolating. What Kiran has offered the community is a real gift: a brilliant business model that doesn’t require exhaustive planning or turn a parent’s need for civilization and a day out into a hassle. For more information on where you can go to eat, drink and…relax, check out The Little Beans Play Café ’s Website at: littlebeansplaycafé .ca, they are located at 70 Kyle Street near St. Johns in Port Moody.

Café Worthy Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken

This is my family’s favourite roast chicken recipe, it’s easy, delicious and the buttermilk brine is used by countless chefs, including Samin Nosrat who actually has the best roast chicken recipe in her cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Here is my roast chicken recipe inspired by many a great chef and their cooking method for roasting the perfect chicken.

To prepare chicken you will need 24 hours, a 4 1/2 -5 lb. whole chicken, buttermilk, sea salt, a sprig of rosemary, garlic, an onion and a cast iron pan (a shallow roasting pan will do too).

Putting it together

Mix together 4 cups of buttermilk, ½ yellow onion sliced, 1 sprig rosemary, 3 crushed garlic cloves, and then 3 tbsp. of sea salt or 3 tbsp. kosher salt. Put chicken into a large Ziplock and double bag it with another large Ziplock or container of your choice. Then pour the buttermilk concoction over chicken and completely cover. Seal up the bags, squish the liquid around to distribute and then put into the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Show Time!

Take the bag of chicken out of the refrigerator and using a colander, drain the chicken and all the bits. Wipe off excess buttermilk from the chicken, truss up the legs and put onto a cast iron pan or in a shallow baking dish and let rest for 1 hour before you roast. Season the chicken with your favourite spices and herbs.

Ready to Roast

When you are ready to roast, bring oven to 425 degrees, then put the chicken in the oven with legs pointing to the left back corner on centre rack where the oven is hotter (this is a great cooking tip by Chef Nosrat). After 20-25 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 degrees and cook an additional 10-15 minutes. Then rotate the pan so that the legs face the back right corner. Continue cooking for 30 more minutes or until the fattest part of the chicken leg registers 165-175 degrees with thermometer or the leg juices run clear after making a small slit.

Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Leftover Roast Chicken Salad

The Salad Dressing

¼ cup balsamic, ¼ cup Dijon mustard, ¼ cup soya sauce, 2 tbsp. sugar, honey or artificial sweetener, 1 tsp. kosher salt, pinch pepper, 1 cup olive oil. Whisk these ingredients together until it emulsifies.

The Salad

2 medium-sized granny smith apples cut into 1-inch pieces, 1 tbsp. lemon juice to put over apples to stop from browning, 4 large handfuls of fresh greens with 1/4 cup snipped herbs like dill and basil, ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced, 2 ripe avocados cut into 1-inch cubes, once again add a little lemon juice, 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, 1 cup sliced grapes, 1/2 cup almonds (roasted is really nice) and ½ cup cubed feta or ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (optional of course). Assemble salad on a platter or in a big salad bowl, add leftover roast chicken to salad or arrange chicken around the salad if on a platter and then just before serving, drizzle this tasty dressing over greens, toss and dig in!

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