Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Buzz: Beaker & Flask
A revealing personal detail: I like lab equipment. Actually, I love it. The clear glass, the odd shapes, the tubes, the beakers (just the word "beaker" sets me off), the flasks. I'd use them for everything if I could only find a good (and cheap) supplier. So when I heard that there was a new bar in town called Beaker & Flask, I was in.
The "Walk, Don't Run"…refreshing and light.
I can't remember when there was that much anticipation around an opening. But then, the opening had been delayed for more than a year from first estimates by the various vagaries of remodeling an older space for a new purpose and the vicissitudes of dealing with the OLCC (all of which are exhaustively detailed in their blog). Owner Kevin Ludwig even did a stint as bar manager for Clyde Common for a bit, as he said, "because a boy and his dog cannot survive on intermittent staff meal(s) and smiles from strangers."
Ah, Blanche, we feel your pain.
But open he did, and the place is an airy yet fairly compact space with a minimalist, monochromatic, mid-century look. A long open bar stretches down one end and curvy round booths curl against the curved west-facing wall (how long has it been since you've seen round tuck-and-roll booths?) and there's a definitely low-key but efficient vibe on the part of the staff.
The cocktails are as good, if not better, than many of the city's better bars, with a knowledgeable hands at the shaker. Housemade tonics appear, as do an array of bitters and unusual (though not just for the sake of being different) liqueurs. But the food here was the surprise, at least to me, since Ludwig's cocktails had been all I'd heard about.
On a couple of recent visits, the plates that chef Ben Bettinger, from Paley's Place and the James John Cafe, was throwing down were pretty much outstanding, the Mac & Cheese with blood sausage (top) being a must-have dish.
The smoked trout deviled eggs could have had more punch, but the grilled corn with roasted poblano aioli and grated cheese was to die for. Prices are extremely reasonable for food this good, and from all reports the scene here is already rocking.
Details: Beaker & Flask, 727 SE Washington St. Phone 503-235-8180.