Small Business Spotlight: Allie's Beach Street Cafe


There is something marvelous about having a completely unadulterated food experience.  By this I mean that you have not been courted by the lush decor or ambushed by the intricate menu but rather you have been left alone to let the food speak for itself; this is the joy of Allie’s.

Glenn and Allie Varga, Owners of Allie’s Beach Street Cafe in Manchester, have been at this for a long time. Glenn, trained in the art of French cuisine, was a server and sommelier at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston for 17 years.  Allie owned and operated the Pleasant Street Tea Company in Gloucester for 10 years. Together they are the team behind the delicious and wonderfully varied menu at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe.  I love Glenn’s Poisson Rouge (I have a serious crush on the two little grilled plantains that sit on the side — perfection).  The Kale Cesar with grilled salmon is my go-to lunch.  My son is a big fan of the Smashburger.  For breakfast, you can go for the Croque Madame or the Stuffed Waffle Sandwich, for lunch the Cubano or the Coquille St-Jacque, and for dinner you can enjoy a truly excellent, and affordable, wine selection along with Shrimp Etouffee or Jagerschnitzel.

Allie and Glenn began with the idea to craft a New England Cafe with the offerings of a classic French bistro.  They did not want to be trendy, just to offer simple rustic food.  Alas, they have succeeded beautifully.  So, as The Cricket begins to highlight local restaurants, and ask them to share a favorite recipe, we begin with our talented friends next door.

Poisson Rouge

Red Fish Soup (serves 4)

1.5 lb. cod (striped bass, haddock or even halibut would be delicious)

12 little neck clams (2-3 per person, as a garnish) 

1 cup diced mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion, leeks)

½ cup bell pepper diced

Tsp. diced shallot

Tsp. chopped garlic

Sprig of thyme

1 Bay leaf

1 Tbsp. “jerk seasoning” (store bought is fine, or blend your own to control the flavors and heat)

1 Tsp. annatto seed ground fine (or start your oil in stock pot with annatto seeds in it then pull them out before you add ingredients if you don't want the whole seeds in your soup this is a key ingredient in flavoring and coloring)

1 Jalapeno, diced for heat (any hot pepper will do, fresh or dried)

4 cups fish stock (or clam juice, chicken stock, white wine, or water)

2 cups canned peeled tomatoes, juice and all

8 pieces of sweet plantains, fried or baked (the sweet and spicy contrast is what makes the dish)

Sweat the vegetable gently in a stock pot with dried spices then add the liquid

Cook until vegetables just begin to soften, add fish and clams

Lower heat, cook until done (clams will open)

Salt and pepper to taste

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