Oct. 1, 2015 01:05 PM
A table at Mortar and Pestle
Christiaan Mader

Walking into the former Bibi's Patisserie and Teahouse, I expected to jot down a few notes on what I assumed was a company re-brand and a slight menu expansion for the gluten-free pastry shop that until recently occupied the cozy home-on-piers on Pinhook across from Cafe Vermilionville. What I found was a bustling hive of activity in yet another not-so-soft restaurant open in town, but this one for a three-headed chimera of an operation, united by a commitment to wellness and wholesome flavor.

The charming digs will not just host new bistro Mortar and Pestle, although the latest creation by Bibi's owner Hannah Elleham is the most direct descendant of the patisserie, it will house a food retail and service co-op known as Tribe Collective. So while Elleham takes me around seemingly endless changes of scenery, the fact that I’m examining not so much a restaurant but a venue built to convey a shared culinary ethos becomes all the more obvious.

Tribe, as the facilitiy will also be dubbed, houses three separate but collaborative operations: Mortar and Pestle, a gluten free bistro and pastry bar featuring old line Bibi’s favorites like macarons and gluten free Hostess-style cupcakes (complete with white frosting curls), has expanded Elleham’s home-spun repertoire to a menu featuring richer provincial French-inspired fare like croque madames and a line of gluten-free flatbread pizzas; Emerge, a raw vegan eatery created by former Evolve Juices operator Melodie Carbuccia, approaches dining from a near ayurvedic point of view featuring wholly raw, wholesomely organic morsels; and Rêve Coffee Roasters retains a presence in what was the cradle of their roasting operation, but now as a simple coffee bar. The roasting operation moved to Downtown.

The original Rêve and Bibi’s collaboration is what prompted Elleham and her partners in Tribe to continue a collective and cooperative mindset in the building where Elleham opened Bibi’s six years ago. It’s an abiding belief that keeping like-minded innovators under one roof creates fertile ground for beautiful and innovating things to bloom.

“We’ve been doing this since day one,” says Elleham. “Bibi’s took in Rêve. Now Rêve sells our pastries in their new shop. We’re trying to help new business that are doing new things.”

It’s a lot going on under one roof to be sure. Tribe collective will feature a commissary kitchen for folks looking to test out restaurant and dish concepts. Bibi’s popular take-and-bake freezer section has moved to the floor for convenient browsing of gluten-free baked goods. Keep an eye out for chef’s table events, classes and a line of products by Mortar and Pestle and Emerge featured at farmers markets in town

Photo by Robin May


Photo by Robin May

Photo by Robin May

Photo by Robin May

Photo by Robin May

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