bea-potpie.jpg
Rabbit pot pie.
The Place: Restaurant Bea , 1423 34th Ave., 812-2901, MADRONA.

The Hours: 5-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

The Digs: Formerly June and Cremant, Restaurant

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Happy Hour at Restaurant Bea Gets an 'A'

bea-potpie.jpg
Rabbit pot pie.
The Place: Restaurant Bea, 1423 34th Ave., 812-2901, MADRONA.

The Hours: 5-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

The Digs: Formerly June and Cremant, Restaurant Bea is a charming little nook in the heart of Madrona. A welcome neighborhood dinner spot that's run by friends Kate Perry (no relation) and Tom Black. Each hospitable in their own right, the decor of the space reflects both: Kate's country, friendly touch can be felt in the floral wallpaper that hugs the dining room and Tom's masculine, yet gentle personality is represented with the soothing earth tones of the bar. The restaurant is almost two separate spaces -- a he-said-she-said -- as if a feuding couple drew a line on the floor defining their own personal living quarters; Perry gets the dining room where she can greet people and charm the pants off of them, and Black gets the kitchen area where he's most comfortable. Somehow, the place still manages to pull-off that "home away from home" vibe. That's probably because for Perry and Black, who poured their heart and soul into this place, it is.

Since its previous incarnations, the L-shaped 60-seater has undergone a major face-lift. Gone is the tiny bar, mirrored wall, closed-off kitchen, and secluded seating that you'd only find if you were heading to the bathroom. Bea showcases a long metal-topped bar surrounded by plentiful tables and bar stools, an open kitchen with a small chef's table, and an all-around ambiance that is more welcoming, fun, and relaxing. It's way more feng shui, in a way.

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Sunchoke chips & chive crème fraîche with a pale ale.
The Deal: Open less than a month, the crew at Bea is still trying to solidify things a bit. Perry tells us the dishes will be rotating every couple of weeks or so, but that the happy hour menu right now is a good representation of what they'll generally offer: chicken thigh bites, veal meatballs and linguine, rabbit pot pie, potato latke topped with duck confit and a poached egg, and sunchoke chips with chive crème fraîche. All of those things are only $5 each. The portions are not entree size, but if you order a couple, you'll leave satisfied if not full. Bea also gets extra points for offering booze during happy hour along with food. Fortunately, the trend of offering either-or seems to be fading. There's a white and a red wine for $5. The night we went, it was a French white and a Spanish red, generously poured. So generous, you'll have to stop at one glass if you want to pass the breathalyzer. Perry says the offerings may change, though "I'll probably leave the piquepoul (the French white) on because I love that wine and it's great in warm weather." There are also specialty cocktails that bartender Craig Schoen, late of Spur, creates each night depending on what Black is cooking. Well drinks are also $5, but beer is full-price.

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Spaghetti and meatballs? Hardly.
The Verdict: After asking chef Black to send us out a couple of things at his whim, we were served the veal meatballs, rabbit pot pie, and sunchoke chips. The chips are a must if you're craving a traditional salty bar snack. The veal meatballs are pretty stellar, but the linguine shouldn't be overlooked. It's been perfectly cooked and sauced the last two times we've eaten it. The rabbit pot pie, however, was the dish that most resembled an entree. The sauce was thick and unctuous, sticking to every bite of rabbit, carrots, peas and buttery crust. The $5 charge is mind-blowingly ridiculous considering that dish could have been a main course. There aren't many restaurants around town that serve dinner service-quality happy hour eats and generous, good-quality wines and craft cocktails at bargain prices. If the bar isn't packed every night between 5-6 for these deals, Seattle doesn't have its head screwed on tight enough. Here's hoping that after the dust settles, Perry and Black don't have a "What were we thinking?" moment and keep their happy hour intact. Oh, and they should totally rename it "Hap-Bea Hour."

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