I was super excited when I found out my boyfriend was taking me on a date to one of Chicago’s hottest new restaurants, Beatnik. I had heard and seen great things, so I definitely had high expectations going in. Upon arrival, you are struck with the gorgeous and unique interior of the restaurant. Ornate chandeliers cover the ceiling, unique patterned floors are in the indoor garden/bar area, as well as candelabras with real lit candles. You will also notice the lively and fairly loud music and DJ (we were there on a Friday night, so I’m not sure if the DJ is a 24/7 thing).
I was a little surprised that having a reservation got us a very small high top table in the bar/garden area. It seemed like a lot of the tables inside the main dining room were communal style, so I guess this made sense. We warmed up to it after a while, but pacing of the dishes was key with the small surface area.
The menu is broken down into 3 sections: Small Plates, The Feast, and Mezze. We opted to go for tapas style, and ordered 5 plates from the small plates/mezze sections. Our first dish was the scallop crudo. This was one of the most gorgeous plates I’ve had in Chicago. The scallops were arranged in a circle, thinly sliced, over peach and hibiscus aguachile. On top were hearts of palm, dragon fruit, kiwi, sesame and chia seeds. It was so fresh, with a little bite from the augachile, perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the fresh fruit. A lovely, light dish to kick off the meal!
Next, we had the grilled baby sepia. This dish was served to us with the sauce poured on top by the waiter table-side. Along with the squid were squid ink masa dumplings, lemongrass, and corn. The sauce was a smoked tomato sugo. This was such a creative dish flavor-wise. I absolutely adored the skid ink masa dumplings. They were rich and flavorful, and paired wonderfully with the sauce. The sepia was cooked well, tender but still a little chewy. I loved the corn as well (I am obsessed with corn) and the lemongrass was so delicious. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night!
The third dish we got was the rabbit arepa. The arepa was served topped with tamarind braised rabbit, liver crema, and a fresh frisee salad. I cut into the arepa to split the dish, and was pleasantly surprised that it was also filled with braised rabbit! Double rabbit, double delicious. The rabbit was so flavorful and juicy, and the arepa was cooked to perfection. I didn’t think the salad really added much, but I ate it to try and be healthy (LOL). This was a hearty dish, so we were starting to get a little full by this point in the meal.
About the same time that the arepa came out, they brought out the pan seared wild mushrooms. These were served with a tahini labneh and crispy shallots on top. The tahini was to die for, and paired beautifully with the mushrooms. My boyfriend and I are both big mushroom fanatics, and would definitely encourage you to add this side to your meal!
Our final dish was the curry meatballs. The meatballs were served with with an English pea puree and some grilled bread. The pea puree and curry sauce were the stars of the dish for me. The actual meatballs weren’t particularly impressive, but the curry sauce was delicious. I found myself lapping it up with the bread instead of finishing my last meatball. The pea puree tasted really fresh, and I enjoyed the texture.
Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Beatnik. The main draw over other top Chicago restaurants is definitely the ambiance. I’ve never been anywhere quite like it, and it made for a unique and fun Friday night spot. The dishes were very good and inventive, and the cocktail list was unique too – it features some pretty cool frozen drinks! If you are looking for a trendy spot and to add a little something different to your dinner, drinks, or date night, I would definitely recommend checking out Beatnik!