Exeter Café Celebrates Community and the Importance of Good Food
Eat consciously, live vibrantly and savor the tastes of healthy eating at Laney & Lu Café
The fresh, cozy atmosphere at Laney & Lu Café in Exeter will make you want to stay well past you finish your Iron(wo)man smoothie and Peaceful Spinach salad. Not only are you greeted by friendly, smiling faces when you walk through the door, but a beautiful wooden sign reads, “Eat Consciously. Live Vibrantly.” – a mission that owner Jennifer Desrosiers has been passionate about since she opened the café in 2015.
Inspired by her own journey to holistic health and wellness, Desrosiers founded Laney & Lu as a way to celebrate community and the connection that food has in creating a more healthy, joyful life. “I always loved the vibes and intimacy that you get at a coffee shop,” says Desrosiers. “I walked by and peaked through a window of a space that was for sale and thought, ‘yep, this is mine.’”
The eatery is tucked into a quiet corner behind Serendipity Boutique on Water Street, and takes advantage of its bright, airy space with reclaimed wood décor and added concrete details. Desrosiers started out with the idea that she wanted to make smoothies, coffee and maybe salads. Three years later, the community’s responses have inspired Desrosiers to add to the tasty, impressive menu, which now includes not only smoothies, coffee and salads, but sandwiches, bowls, snacks, delicious treats and smoothie bowls that were a Best of NH 2018 Editor’s Pick for Best Smoothie Bowl.
The menu is built around a simple concept: serving vibrant, real food. The café focuses on sustainability and transparency with their customers. They source from ingredients grown or responsibly produced, and buy local and/or organic whenever possible. By working with local farmers and merchants such as Flying Goat Farm, the staff can create “delicious food and drink that nourishes your body and feeds your soul.” From the food and the 100 percent compostable, biodegradable, recyclable and reusable packaging to their environmentally friendly flooring, Desrosiers wanted to make it clear that Laney & Lu takes seriously the responsibility to make a meaningful contribution to the world and community beyond serving food. One of the other core values is making sure that every staff member delivers extraordinary customer experience with “legendary” service, and I found that they most certainly lived up to that standard.
I know from personal experience that it can be intimidating stepping into a restaurant when you have various food allergies, but the staff at Laney & Lu wants to make your experience easy and comfortable. “We recognize that there are three moments that we will have with our customers when they walk through our door,” says Desrosiers. “First, they will interact with our home-y, warm space, and the positive energy and vibes sprinkled throughout. Second, they will have their first interaction with a team member who will make them feel valued and appreciated. Lastly, they have a moment when they see, taste and eat our food.” I stepped up to the counter with a host of food allergies, but no one on staff blinked an eye when I asked about making modifications to a couple of menu items. After taking in and studying the menu, I decided on trying a Blueberry Basil smoothie and Blissful Chakra salad with a fried egg. Desrosiers also made me two of her favorites, the Avo Burger and Falafel Mediterranean bowl. The food that was delivered to my little window corner seat was colorful, healthy and almost too good to eat. Desrosiers told me that you eat with your eyes first, and let me tell you – she wasn’t wrong. It tasted all as good as it looked.
The dairy-free Blueberry Basil smoothie packed a punch of flavor, and was the perfect refresher during a hot, humid New England summer day. The Chakra salad combined spinach and mixed greens with kale, carrots, red and yellow pepper, red onions, cherry tomatoes, raw pepitas and green goddess dressing for a lunch that would put all of your boring break room salads to shame. Made with whole, delicious, plant-based, gluten-free, paleo and local ingredients, it’s no wonder that items like these are as good for the eyes as they are for the stomach.
Laney & Lu prides themselves in creatively concocting and making each dish with love, and that was apparent from start to finish. While I didn’t leave room for the Avo Burger and Falafel Mediterranean bowl, I was still amazed by the craftsmanship and attention to detail in these menu items. The Avo Burger uses an avocado as a bun and includes a sunflower seed veggie burger, kala and jicama slaw, tomato, house-fermented hot sauce, sesame seeds and pea shoots. The bowl boasts the same wow-factor with layered tri-colored quinoa, spinach, tomato, red onion, fresh cucumber, grass-fed feta cheese, avocado, sesame falafel, local yogurt tzatziki and turmeric lemon tahini sauce. I was impressed by how something could be so vibrant and so healthy all at once, and definitely made a note to have these be the next items to try and taste on my list.
Eating fresh food doesn’t have to be difficult, intimidating, boring and tasteless. Laney & Lu Café combines a cool, comfortable, chic environment, with a filling, nutrient-dense ingredient list that reads like a garden, beautifully healthy. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor for eating good food that is also good for you. Their tasty variety, from tea blends that support holistic wellness to their kid’s corner menu, means that your vegan neighbor and gluten- and dairy-free best friend can all enjoy a meal here together. The next time that you’re in Exeter, pull up a trendy-looking seat, indulge in a sublime smoothie, and get ready to eat healthy and leave glowing from the inside out.