With Illinois starting to open back up after the initial COVID-19 lockdown, I finally have a new restaurant to write about. I’ve been doing my part to stay inside and only going out if necessary for the past few months, so there hasn’t been much in the way of restaurant dining to publish on the site, which is why I’ve been reviewing hard seltzers for a while.
I mean, isn’t that what everyone else has been doing during the quarantine…. drinking?
Finally, this past weekend, we made a reservation at Beatnik Chicago in West Town for our first night out in the city in months.
I’m still a bit skeptical about eating inside of a restaurant, so we decided that if we couldn’t eat outside on their patio then we would skip it, but thankfully it turned out to be a perfect night.
Beatnik Chicago Restaurant
Even though we sat on the “patio”, which is basically just 3 tables along the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, the actual restaurant itself has an open-air retractable roof, so on nice nights you still get that feeling that you’re outside.
Especially with the amount of plants and trees they have in this place.
The restaurant is pretty deep, with the actual indoor seating more towards the back, the retractable roof over the front of the space, and then the small outdoor patio right along the front.
The patio isn’t closed off from the restaurant at all as the front of the building has giant windows that open to make everything seem like it’s part of the same space.
It’s a very cool space with a lot going on. There are plants and trees everywhere, fancy umbrellas with more fringe than I’ve ever seen in my life hanging off of all of them, a long bar that takes up the whole side of the open-air area and then a slightly darker, more intimate indoor dining area towards the back.
Even though the space is super cool, I’m very happy that we sat at the front on the patio. Again, I’m still a little weirded out by eating inside a restaurant regardless of how well our state is doing, or how well the restaurant is keeping up with the new standards for opening. I just don’t trust other people.
I will say though, in regards to taking COVID seriously, the restaurant did a great job.
We were greeted outside by the host who verified our reservation and then had us scan a QR code to access the menu (which just takes you to the website). We were then taken to our table which was cleaned off for us as we sat down.
Our incredible server (I wish I could remember her name), came over to greet us right away with her mask on properly, and she just genuinely seemed happy to be back at work, which made us happy.
Happy enough that it was time to go nuts with food and drinks…
Beatnik Restaurant Food
When my wife first told me that we were going to Beatnik for dinner with our friends, she only said that it was “kind of Mediterranean food”, but didn’t really explain much after that.
I don’t mind some Mediterranean food so I was expecting to be able to find some stuff on the menu that I would enjoy… but after actually looking at the menu I wasn’t sure what I was going to eat.
It’s not that everything sounded bad, it’s just I didn’t know what I might like. So I just left it up to the rest of the table to order and I told them I would try everything that showed up at the table…
We started with some cocktails.
Me and Meredith had the Slushie, which isn’t always the same, but I’m not sure how often it changes. On our visit the Slushie was some sort of peach drink with mezcal and some other stuff I can’t remember… It was delicious.
Normally I drink way less than everyone at dinner, but I ended up having an extra drink because they were so good.
And yes, I have no shame in drinking a slushie cocktail while out to dinner… the brighter the color the better.
My second choice of drink would have been the Barefoot in the Park, which consists of vodka, Tio Pepe, Watermelon, Lemon and Mint, but I’m not a fan of mint in general, so I opted out of this one… however my wife did order this and really enjoyed it.
Nick ordered the Second Fiddle which has bourbon, Pineapple, Turmeric Syrup, Lemon and Sumac Salt. He enjoys bourbon so I’m assuming he liked it… he also had more than one, so that would tell me it wasn’t too bad.
After our round of cocktails we decided it was time to order some food.
The food is meant to be shared, kind of like Tapas style plates, so we ordered 4 small dishes up front for the table.
The first things that came out were the Burrata and the Pistachio Tzatziki.
The Burrata came with Nichols Farm cherry tomatoes, asparagus salsa verde, sunflower seed dukkah, za’atar olive oil and there were definitely some peaches in there.
I tend to stay away from the straight cheese items on the menus, just because I’m not always sure how my stomach is going to react to the dairy, but I decided to give the burrata a try, especially since the pita bread was so good.
And I was definitely surprised with how much I liked the cheese itself. I could have done with all the other stuff on the plate though, even though I did try one of the peaches. It just seemed like too much going on and it wasn’t for me.
The Pistachio Tzatziki wasn’t even on my radar as something I wanted to try, it’s not my favorite by any means. I never eat it no matter what food it’s with, but, as I said before, I told everyone I would try whatever hit the table.
And again, pleasantly surprised. I guess I never realized that it has a very cucumber taste to it, and I love cucumbers, so why I never eat it is weird.
I didn’t eat any of the surrounding items on the plate, just spread the Tzatziki on to the pita bread and that was enough for me, but it was definitely good.
The next thing that hit the table was our Scallops with Jamon Iberico, which I was told was basically like bacon. It also came with a Piquillo Pepper Red Curry sauce.
The order only comes with 2 scallops for $18, which was a little expensive I feel, so we had to get two orders in order for everyone to try one.
I don’t eat seafood very often, scallops almost never, but these were really good. I would order these again if the price wasn’t so high, so this might bring me to order/try scallops at other restaurants we visit in the future.
They didn’t taste “fishy” and the Jamon Iberico was a nice, salty, addition to the top. I did try the Piquillo Pepper Red Curry sauce and it wasn’t as spicy as I was expecting, but I liked it better without.
After our scallops came what I thought would be the “safest” dish for me, the meatballs. But upon arriving at our table, I was having second thoughts.
The meatballs consist of tandoori masala spices, roasted poblano pepper hummus, fried onions, and micro cilantro… and they were super green, which is what I wasn’t expecting.
However, upon trying them, they were actually really good. Definitely didn’t taste like an Italian meatball that I’m used to, they had a little bit of a kick to them, but not much. Overall though, they were really good, and I’d order them again for sure.
Having enjoyed the small plates that arrived at our table, it was time to bring out the big guns.
The “Feast” portion of the menu has larger, more entree-like, plates that are more of a full meal in themselves as opposed to the small plates. We decided to try two of the larger plates of food with the Lebanese-Style Roasted Lamb and the Whole Fish.
Let’s start with the Whole Fish, because I definitely did not try that, but my wife absolutely loved it. The Whole Fish is just that, a whole fish on a plate; Green harissa, Mediterranean Amba, Pickled Red Onion, Herb Salad and togarashi. I honestly don’t even know what most of those ingredients/foods are, but just take a look at the picture, it was literally just a whole fish that you dug the insides out of.
As I said, I did not try it, but there wasn’t anything left of that thing once the rest of the table was through with it, so I have to imagine that it was good… if you like fish.
Now, the Lebanese-Style Roasted Lamb was delicious. It had Hummus, pickled seasonal vegetables, aromatic herb salad, pistachio tzatziki, Persian cucumber salad and naan… I didn’t really eat any of that other stuff, but the lamb itself was amazing. It was essentially just three huge lamb ribs roasted to perfection. The only downside was that it was pretty expensive coming in at $59…
And as I said before, the pricing would probably be my only complaint about Beatnik. The food and service were great, the atmosphere in the restaurant itself was great. Everyone seemed to be taking the necessary COVID precautions, so I never felt anxious or worried that I was going to get sick.
It was a great experience overall and if you’re ok with the prices (which you can find on the menu online), then by all means check it out. There are two locations, one in West Town/Noble Square area and one on the river downtown.