Cafe Society

The Squeaky Bean gets ready to expand its kitchen

Since the Squeaky Bean opened in May 2009, chef Max MacKissock has found the limitations of the closet-sized kitchen an ongoing test of his creativity. Not only does he have to dream up three meals a day that satisfactorily incorporate his obsession with seasonality, he also has to figure out how to execute those menus effectively for service. Over the past thirteen months, he's managed to make the most of the space and come up with some innovative solutions.

Simple techniques show how far he's come. "When we first opened, the only way we could cook an egg was to poach it," he says. "Now we've got several preparations on the menu."

Now that he's worked out all the angles, though, he's going to get a reprieve: The Squeaky Bean's kitchen is slated for an expansion as soon as all the details can be worked out with the Aguirre family, which owns the building and Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe in the next-door space.

"All the plans are drawn," says Bean owner Johnny Ballen. "We're hoping for the fall." Currently, the expansion is scheduled for September, but he admits that could mean any time between then and November.

Although MacKissock acknowledges that the kitchen's limitations have helped him expand his bag of culinary tricks, he's looking forward to a proper space in which to work, one that will allow him to elevate the scope of the menu. "I want to have the best breakfast," says the chef, "and really creative lunch options."

But even with all the new bells and whistles, his goals for the food will remain the same: to be seasonal and fun.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk