I don’t usually think of the word “natural” when I’m in the mood for a Reuben sandwich.

I love a bright red, heavily-preserved corned beef on my Reuben. I grew up thinking that is the only kind of corned beef. It’s not red, it’s just beef, I’ve always thought.

But that perception was turned on its head last week when I ventured out of the cold into the warmth of Highland Avenue Greenhouse and Farm Market. Besides growing things and selling produce, the place has an extensive menu of soups, sandwiches and meals to go. Since it’s a greenhouse, you’d figure the place would have a focus on fresh food, which they do.

So I figured I’d try the Reuben sandwich ($7.95 including a bag of potato chips and a pickle). It was advertised on the menu as having homemade, nitrate-free corned beef. It also has Swiss cheese, crunchy slaw and Russian dressing on fresh marble rye bread. The rye bread was pressed in a sandwich press, and golden brown on the outside.

Inside, the corned beef was tender and full of flavor. The slaw was crunchy as advertised, and a lot fresher tasting than your average slaw. Overall it was a taste experience that just may make me color blind when it comes to corned beef in the future.

The sandwich was enough to make me want to go back to the greenhouse, which is a little out of the way, located between Pleasant Hill Road and Black Point Road in Scarborough. But I’d also go back to try the other sandwiches and soups, which look great, and to eat in the greenhouse.

Yes, eat in the greenhouse.

While it’s snowing and freezing outside, diners can relax in a sunny greenhouse building eating their soups and sandwiches on picnic tables and garden furniture, surrounded by greenery.

Some of the other sandwiches on the menu include: steak and cheese, for $7.95, with shaved sirloin, sautéed peppers and onions and American cheese on a baguette; a Caesar wrap, $5.95, with either grilled chicken or roasted portobello mushrooms and romaine lettuce, homemade croûtons and Caesar dressing; a turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with lemon garlic mayo for $6.95; chicken salad with chicken, walnuts, dried cranberries and celery in a lemony yogurt dressing for $6.95; and a meatball sub for $7.95.

There’s also a grilled cheese with cheddar and American cheeses for $5.95 and a veggie sandwich with roasted eggplant, red pepper, goat cheese and a sun-dried tomato and Kalamata olive spread on ciabatta bread for $6.95.

There’s a different soup or stew each day too, including pork and green chili stew on Tuesday, tortellini with greens soup on Wednesday, cheddar corn chowder on Thursday, Tuscan peasant soup on Friday, Mulligatawny on Saturday and broccoli, potato and greens soup on Sunday. Soups are $3.25 a cup, $4.50 a bowl, or $10.50 a quart.

There are lots of homemade baked goods, including cookies and brownies and things, plus of course a large selection of fruits and veggies. So you can pick up, say, an orange to go with your lunch, or a few heads of lettuce to bring home.

Or you can grab your warm Reuben sandwich, your warm cup of soup, and your warm-weather orange, and sit among the greens in the sun-drenched greenhouse.

Let lunchtime be your respite from all things cold.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com