Friday, September 7, 2007

The Beacon

I knew the day that I started writing this blog that I would eventually have to do something that I really don’t want to do: Write negative things. About a restaurant.

Anyone who knows me or has at least read a few of these entries probably already knows how much I enjoy the experience of eating out. I love the surprise of the food. The anticipation of what it is going to taste like, to look like. Choosing the perfect wine. Or the cheapest one. Partaking in overindulgence. Or restraint. I think I also view it as a sort of continuing education. Following trends, getting inspired. Discovering new tastes and rediscovering familiar ones.

So when I walked into The Beacon last Saturday night, I was ready for anything. I expected inspiration and creativity, sophistication and innovation. Instead I got a meal that, at it’s best, could be described as mediocre.

First off, points definitely go to The Beacon for unique décor. Hip, modern and semi-pretentious are words that all come to mind. Walking through the doors and glancing around I felt transformed to a big city girl. Low, sensuous lighting and eclectic furnishings added to the opulence. The distinctive and spacious flow of the restaurant offered the feeling of private dining, and of importance.

I was thrilled when we were seated with other tables at least three or four feet away. It felt kinda like our own private island. But, my chair was very short leaving me feeling like a kid, and the sexy dark lighting just made it hard to read the menu. I made a comment that it would be great if Dad and Mary were with us, they always have those key chain flashlight thingies. (The one you gave me for Christmas a few years ago broke, hint hint!)

On the advice of my dinner companion, I had already checked out the menu online and was set for the evening. My first drink of choice was not being offered, so I went with my second choice off their “summer drinks” menu: strawberry. Strawberry lemonade with Chopin Vodka, it was delicious and I had two (gimme a break, we took a cab).

My entrée choice for the evening was the chicken Francaise. Described in the menu as “traditional”, I certainly missed the white wine butter sauce that is “traditionally” served with this dish. My chicken was heavily breaded, over cooked and dry. I think they may have even deep-fried it. The only saving grace was the accompanying salad: greens, yellow tomatoes, applewood bacon, gorgonzola, avocado and quail egg in a thyme crème fraiche dressing. After a long consultation with our server, my vegetarian dinner companion had come up with a great dinner of parmesan orzo and fresh veggies. It was perfect on the second try, but you really can’t complain when you are ordering off menu. We each ordered wine, but, quite honestly, after the “summer drinks” I don’t remember what we got.

I do, however, remember our desserts and post dinner drinks. We shared the Petit Chocolate Cakes, a snifter of Navan, and each had a decaf. At this point you’re probably asking yourself the same thing I asked our server after he offered it: What is this Navan? The honestly answer is: The perfect liquor for Kate. I’m not kidding! It’s the new product from Grand Marnier: a Madagascar vanilla infused cognac. It was smooth and sweet, absolutely delicious. (Although I’m trying not to hold the Navan website description against it: “Navan mirrors the borderless state of mind and disparate cultural influences of transculturals.” Who writes this stuff?)

Our dessert was the highlight of the meal, decadent chocolate cakes each with it’s own scoop: coffee, dark chocolate and cherry. Even though I missed the Chamboard that was promised on the menu, the huge fresh berries were a perfect match. The “house” ice cream was smooth and delicious. When I asked the server about the fantastic ice cream, she replied with the appropriate ending to the meal, and well, a perfect summary of The Beacon: “Oh, we don’t make it here…it’s from Publix!”

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