There’s no proceed to protest about distracting song in a griddle though sounding like a prolonged and slow fart. But this won’t be a initial time I’ve been indicted of that, so here goes anyway: Turn it a fuck down, Beatnik.
Beatnik—as in a teenage hipster Maynard G. Krebs, played by a twentysomething Bob Denver in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis—is a sixth tour for Bonhomme Hospitality, a organisation behind Wicker Park’s Black Bull and Bordel and River North’s Celeste and Disco. In fact, Beatnik is a board-certified clubstaurant, one that somehow breached a invisible force margin that protects a rest of us from Saturday night in River North and staid a stroke mass in Noble Square progressing this year.
Yes, of march there’s a DJ. Why wouldn’t there be? If we occur to be perched during a mosaic-tiled high-top subsequent to him in a second of a restaurant’s 3 bars, you’ll have to try to keep your curry meatballs from butt-jumping a image to a unnatural Studio 54.2 soundtrack. It’s impossibly aggravating to eat to, though surprisingly motivating to write to. (Thanks, Horse Meat Disco.)
Beatnik tries to inundate all your senses. Dripping candelabras and shimmering chandeliers irradiate an eyeball-crossing hotchpotch of antique styles and patterns from all points of a creation (Paris, Egypt, Bali), a picker’s arrangement of patchwork exotica.
Black Bull cook Marcos Campos’s menu takes a identical proceed to collecting, sketch on a unconditional accumulation of cuisines, from Africa to Asia to Europe and South America. In these balkananized times, it’s good to see so many cultures come together during once, and there are some engaging ideas here, like lemongrass-scented sepia steaks (since 86’d from a menu) perched on tubular squid-ink masa dumplings (Hey, we got your Thailand in my Mexico!). An arepa, non-stop like a mouth, seems to inform a pile of tangy, shredded tamarind-braised rabbit, served squirted with a crema churned with leporid liver. Beet hummus with blue cheese. Baba ghanoush with fig balsamic vinegar. Grilled asparagus whisked by a accompaniments from a Levant (pistachio) to Spain (romesco) to Japan (bonito flakes) and back. There’s not a limit Campos won’t run for.
The menu facilities dual sets of starters, “small plates” and “mezze,” a latter radically amounting to starters and sides meant to be systematic with an object from a list labeled “the feast”—five vast plates trimming from bone-in aged rib eye to whole fish to half a duck, any with a possess fixings.
Unfortunately, there’s so most function in this high-volume host scene—there are no reservations between 7 and 9 PM—it’s no warn that a kitchen competence infrequently ramble into a weeds and get sloppy, promulgation out those aforementioned meatballs so oversalted they seem to mummify. Tiny French lentils are further mined with salt, and accompany deep-fried cower (also now 86’d) plated with blobs of a red salsa so honeyed it belongs on your subsequent image of spaghetti. Oysters are rubberized by too most time on a griddle and served servile in immature prohibited salsa and a gooey, eggy jam that together are meant to be a tiny take on shakshuka, eggs in purgatory’s spicier North African ancestor. One of a incomparable investments is a roasted lamb “feast,” in my box shelve and shoulder that, baked together, reached opposite temperatures during opposite rates, ensuing in a operation of textures between sleazy soothing and impermeably solid. This was maybe a usually thing we ate during Beatnik that indeed indispensable salt.
There are moments of clarity on this menu. Bright chickpea salad, preserved radishes, and pistachio tzatziki should rush that lamb they’re hitched to and go solo. Fanned slices of pig shoulder beef from Spanish Ibérico hog are deeply flavored though make no clarity with a crushed honeyed potato, roasted squash, and preserved plums that arrive on a apart image that covers a dish. But boiled baby eggplants with a date syrup-Dijon mustard salsa are baby candy, and spaghetti squish with tomatillo, cotija cheese, and chermoula (another curtsy to North Africa) is a winter salad that banishes winter.
Desserts seem even some-more focused on a East; there’s a chocolate-halva torte, an orange-blossom cheesecake with phyllo and candied pistachios, and a Turkish coffee affogato with mascarpone and chocolate-sauced cardamom ice cream that fast cools into a bewitching engulf of flavors.
In some ways Beatnik is a reversion to a 90s and early aughts; specifically, to a brash, immersive griddle productions of Jerry Kleiner (Marché, Carnivale, Red Light, etc), a restaurateur who gay in removing in your face. But during slightest Kleiner was an impresario able of focus. Beatnik, in a attempts to authority all a senses, ends adult shortchanging them all. v
Julia Thiel lonesome Beatnik’s libation module here.