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Alexandria's Broadway Bistro offers tasty lunch dishes

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 10/29/2012 3:32 PM

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Broadway Bistro

613 Broadway, Alexandria, Minn.

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sunday.

Customer favorite: Broadway Bistro features cold and hot sandwiches, soups and salads. The Cuban is requested by many. The hot sandwich is made with pork carnita, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and garlic aioli all piled on a ciabatta roll. The sandwich is $7.50 and includes chips.

Contact: Sue Nelson (320) 846-0777.

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Sue Nelson says she has a gift when it comes to cooking.

She has a way with spices, fruits, vegetables and meats to create tasty sandwiches, soups and salads at her Alexandria business, Broadway Bistro.

The soups, sauces and many of the dressings are made from scratch and she uses fresh locally grown produce purchased from the Alexandria Farmers Market.

"We are true foodies here," Nelson said. "We love to do seasonal specials and to create meals that are our own."

Her attention to local ingredients is evident in the Asian vegetable soup she recently featured as one of her soups of the day. The soup was made with locally grown golden beets, shaved Brussels sprouts, yellow peppers, Swiss chard, Japanese zucchini and lemon basil and fresh ginger, she said.

She offers both hot and cold sandwiches including the Tuscan Grilled made with Provolone cheese, pesto sauce and Roma tomatoes served in a sunflower multi-grain bun. Like all the sandwiches, the Tuscan Grilled is served with chips.

The Bistro Cuban is especially popular with customers who spend their winters in Florida, she said. The hot sandwich's base is a ciabatta roll that is filled with pork carnita, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and garlic aioli.

Cold sandwiches include the turkey avocado. A ciabatta roll is filled with provolone cheese, avocado mayo, sun-dried tomato mayo and lettuce.

The dill egg salad is an example of Broadway Bistro's attention to flavors and freshness. The eggs used in the sandwiches are boiled each morning, Nelson said. Chicken breasts, used in sandwiches and salads, are prepared early in the day as well.

Salad offerings include the Greek Grain Medley made with a blend of sweet potato orzo, red quinoa, wheat berries and rice topped with tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, sunflower seeds and scallions. It's served with creamy feta cheese dressing.

Nelson aspired to be a chef while in high school. Her first forays into food preparation were in her family's kitchen. She learned about the rich heritage of family favorites there as well as her Yugoslavian grandmothers' special dishes.

When she married Tim Nelson, she learned to make his family's favorites from his mother and grandmother including light, tasty sandwich buns. She taught the couple's three sons how to roll the dough just right.

She worked five years with chefs at a local restaurant to learn techniques. She always knew she'd have her own place.

"You don't choose the food industry, it chooses you," she said.

In 2003, she started the catering business Bistro To Go. Six years later she purchased a downtown building, changed her business name to Broadway Bistro and began offering lunches while continuing the catering business.

Before Nelson opened the doors to her bistro, she had one challenge. She had to write down the recipes so her staff could help prepare meals. Nelson has that special cooking gift where, without measuring cups or spoons, she can "eyeball" just the right amount of seasonings and other ingredients.

The bottom line is consistency, she said.

"Everything has to be consistent," she said. "And everybody here shares that love of food. They are very passionate about what they do."

— Carol Stender