James Beard Would Haunt Beam's

James Beard.jpg
Terrible food makes the ghost of James Beard cry. And then he haunts you, with chains, and wailing, and other ghostly shit.
When we got to Beam's at 6 p.m. on a Sunday, it was booked: packed to the rafters with such a geriatric crew that Beam's small dining room looked like a package of Q-Tips. An old dude, presumably the owner of Beam's, ambled up to tell us to come back at 8. He was a roly-poly bear of a man with a shaved head and sloping shoulders. He could've been James Beard's doppelganger. Surely this was a good omen.

Well, it wasn't a good omen because Beam's sucks. Grilled mushrooms ($6) were tasty enough: a mélange of a white buttons, criminis, and oyster 'shrooms were sautéed in a buttery sauce. The mushrooms were tender and very clean, without a trace of grit to sully the proceedings. Totally OLDE SKEWL. This dish sported an interesting garnish: thin membranes of potato were stuck together with a sage leaf inside, then deep fried until the potatoes became translucent. This edible "peacock feather" was shatteringly crisp and not overpoweringly sage-y.

Next up was a romaine salad ($8). We got a huge, squared-off section of Romaine: it looked like they simply lopped off the top and bottom of a whole lettuce and gave it to you like that. The romaine was drenched in a gloopy dressing and strewn with a few straggling carrot jullienes, and dotted on top--as if the chef had OCD--with a perfect line of capers. This was generally an okay salad, but I was perplexed by another fucked- up garnish: sitting on the plate, off to the side, was a bizarre fluff of puff pastry, shaped into a curvy triangular shape eerily reminiscent of the Klingon insignia. Like Beam's patrons, it seemed old and stiff.

Sea scallops ($17) came eight to a plate: sad rubbery pucks splashing around in a shallow pool of some kind of thin salty brown pan reduction sauce. The scallops were seared on top and bottom and were unfortunately overcooked. They were also strangely garnished with the aforementioned potato and sage leaf peacock feather.

Dinner limped to a close with Beef Stroganoff ($17). This was probably the best thing I ate at Beam's: tender chunks of beef and curlicues of egg noodle in a creamy tangy sauce. The pasta was overcooked and floppy like the breasts of Beam's patrons, and the sauce had startlingly chilly pockets of unmixed sour cream, but fuck it--it was better than Hamburger Helper, at least. And it was garnished, AGAIN, with the same sage and potato feather. A full 75 percent of the dishes we ordered featured this garnish. WHY?

Beam's may have a dude who looks like James Beard working there, but that means nothing. The REAL James Beard would never eat at Beam's.

Rating: 3 Beards out of 10

Beam's is located at 1106 8th Avenue

For reservations call 206-623-3462

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