It can take a restaurant a good half year and a do-over to achieve the kind of equilibrium that turns visitors into regulars. Restaurant Bea opened in the spring of 2012 in the angular Madrona storefront that had seen the beginning and the end of both June and Crémant. Both had been on the Frenchy, pricey side. How would Bea’s story be different?
Owner Kate Perry and co-owner and chef Tom Black (Barking Frog) opened with a list of upscale comfort dishes—meatloaf, rillettes, short ribs with fava bean puree—and succeeded with that through midsummer, when Black and Perry parted ways for divergent visions. Perry hired chef Jim McCarthy (High Life, Five Spot), who since August has been steadily refining the menu.
Not that it’s so different. Oh, food nerds will see that some of the original menu’s more upscale reaches—the sweetbreads, the marrow bones with celery heart salad—have been replaced with dishes geared toward enticing the neighbors: oven-roasted chicken with pan sauce, a Painted Hills burger on brioche (with killer frites), a satisfying plate of seared scallops on beluga lentils and celeriac puree. Desserts are often save-room-worthy, including a carrot cake whoopie pie (cream cheese frosting in the middle!) to replace the swoony ice cream sandwiches from the early days.
But the most important ingredient in Bea’s has been there from the start: an enchanting atmosphere—Grandma’s own wallpapered sweetness up front; date-night dim at the bar in back—abetted by Perry’s gracious hostmanship.
Published: January 2013