By: Ashley Berry
Have your taste buds fallen asleep? Did they die from boredom, atrophying in response to a lack of stimulation? If so, then you must not have made it to the Grand Opening/ One Year Anniversary of Beachwood Café this past Friday. Even though it was only March 1st, the undeniable feeling of summer was in the air as people milled happily about Beachwood Village on a warm Friday evening, and trickled into the café at the intersections of Beachwood and Westshire Drives.
The café emanated a warm, welcoming glow and, as I walked into the historic building that was the former site of the Village Coffee Shop, I was immediately enveloped by the enchanting atmosphere of Beachwood Cafe. Owner Patti Peck greeted attendees like beloved family that she hadn’t seen in ages and the crowd, which ranged from 30-somethings to neighborhood old-timers and included singles as well as families, mingled as though they were at a neighborhood block party.
The old-timey sounds of Los Angeles-based folk band, Triple Chicken Foot, filled the room and furthered the quaint vibe of the event that marks the one year anniversary of Beachwood Café, a restaurant and café that has equal amounts of hipster appeal and family friendliness with window sills full of games and children’s hats and modern, but whimsical design elements. The menu, which features inspired twists on classic American comfort food with influences drawn from Asian, Mediterranean, and Scandinavian cuisines, is the result of Chef Minh Phan’s culinary genius. Her dishes are innovative, with unexpected flavor combinations that are as intriguing as they are delicious, and, throughout the course of the evening, she could periodically be seen at the kitchen service window, all smiles, presenting dish after dish of delightful small bites to be passed out to the event attendees.
A tender ginger-hoisin pulled pork rested on the lightest of brioche toasts and its savory flavors were offset by a tangy and refreshing pickled radish. Moist chunks of Hamachi ceviche were infused with Bergamot, seasoned lightly with sea salt and tarragon, and served atop a crisp tostada. Minh, as she is known by her patrons, displayed her playful culinary inclinations with double maple corn dogs that wrap a succulent turkey maples sausage in fluffy maple breading, and make regular corn dogs ashamed of themselves and turkey meatball pops that were light in the mouth but full of Asian spice flavors like ginger and sweet soy vinegar. My personal favorite of the evening was the deceptively simple rye blinis that were topped with the most deliciously creamy, lightly pungent cana de cabra cheese, mint pesto, and pickled strawberries. Pickled pear champagne cocktails and house-made sodas in flavors such as mint limeade, raspberry kiwi, and, my personal favorite, passion fruit mango complemented the appetizers.
Neighbors, whether meeting for the first time or long-time friends, savored the exquisite combination of fine food and drinks, delightful company, and a charming atmosphere. Those who weren’t quite ready for the night to end stayed after the reception to experience a reasonably priced tasting menu that debuted the café’s new spring offerings. When it was time for me to go on my way, I drifted toward the café doorway and looked back at the groups of people merrily chatting and the kids sitting at tables playing games and knew I would be back soon, as Beachwood Café, though only a year old, already feels like home.