The Theater District welcomes a new restaurant and bar into the neighborhood; and this one is bound to stick around! Bea, named after owner Sotir Zonea’s Romanian grand-mother, offers a comfortable and relaxed ambiance accompanied with a very special food and cocktail menu.
Despite the inherent bustle of Hell’s Kitchen, Bea is a calm and spacious place. There are multiple seating options depending on the occasion. The bar, which is set as the focal point in the middle of the restaurant, seems like the place to be for regulars. It has an open layout that lends itself to easy conversations with old and new friends alike. If you are looking for a more intimate experience, there are also several booths and a cozy back room separated with curtains that would be ideal for a larger party. Then, there is the Atrium where you can catch some sunrays and kick back. I predict this space will be especially popular for Saturday and Sunday brunch service—which they just started.
With carefully crafted drinks and multi-cultural American cuisine by Chef Anunya Clarke, the experience is worthy of the most discerning tastebuds. There is quite literally a cocktail for everyone; there are 20 on the menu. It was hard to choose from all the unique concoctions, so we naturally had to try a few! My guest and I started with the Divine Derecho, which was made from El Jimador Silver Tequila, El Buho Mezcal, spicy honey syrup, Fino sherry, and lemon juice; and The Gypsy Lord, consisting of Brugal Aged-Rum, house-made pomegranate syrup, lime juice, and Angostura bitters. The Divine Derecho was a spin on a classic margarita with a subtle smokiness up-front and a spicy bite on the finish. The presentation of The Gypsy Lord was lovely in a cold Mint Julep Cup over-flowing with crushed ice.
The next one down the hatch was the Lavender Monk, made with Lavender-infused Tito’s Vodka, yellow Chartreuse, lime juice, Fever Tree Ginger Beer, and garnished with a lime wheel, cherry, and ginger candy. The soft floral vodka paired with the chartreuse and ginger beer made for a refreshingly crisp treat that’s perfect for spring. I will definitely indulge in another on my next visit. If you are an Old-Fashioned fan, the Paper Fox is the drink for you; it’s made from Rye whiskey, Luxardo Maraschino liquer, house-made ginger syrup, and lime juice. In other featured cocktails, Bea’s genius mixologist uses thyme-infused gin, rosemary-infused gin, Kappa Pisco, rosemary sprig garnishes and a beer-tequila combination.
The food was just as special as the cocktails. The waitress started us off with the house-made bar snack, fried chickpeas with almonds. They were hot, fresh, and crispy and so much more interesting than a traditional nut-mix. For appetizers we shared a few small plates. The Grilled Shrimp Toast was delicious on a toasted flaky baguette topped with ripe avocado, a sweet green tobacco, picked red onions, and a generous helping of meaty shrimp. We also took the waitress’s recommendation for the Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Raita and the Pork Dumplings. The meatballs were tender and juicy paired with the fresh dill in the Greek yogurt. Equally as juicy, these dumplings may have been the most flavorful dumplings I’ve ever had. They were spiced with ginger, scallions, and micro cilantro with a plum sauce.
Although, the three dishes would have been the perfect amount for two to share, we made room for an entrée because the first course was that good. Being a southerner, I could not resist the tomato soup with fresh bread sticks. It was smooth and creamy but with hearty chunks of vegetable all at once—a perfect lunch option.
We finished it off with one of Bea’s signature dishes, the Steak and Tomatoes. The marinade for the steak lent just enough flavor without being over-powering and the beef was so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. The charred tomatoes and the house-made spicy onion sauce complimented the steak nicely. Bea topped off our wonderful meal with one last gesture of true hospitality, a shot of its house-made Visinata, a Romanian after-dinner drink made from sour cherries.
If you are looking for a comfortable spot with complex craft cocktails and outstanding cuisine you have to make it over to Bea; they have it down!
Photos by Sha Savage