Food service as Dialogue not Monologue

 

Full disclosure: This is in no way an objective review or profile – What Weekly is glad to have a relationship with Beatnik and we will be hosting our inaugural Social Club event there on Sunday, August 18th.

Photo courtesy of Beatnik

Photo courtesy of Beatnik

Beatnik Bar and Restaurant:  Food service as Dialogue not Monologue

Ezra Lefko with Steven Carson and Grant Shprintz

It’s like the difference between the paper you wrote in that class you hate and the manifesto you composed to nail on the church.” 

I recently enjoyed dining at the brand-new Beatnik and chatting with the owners Steven and Grant.  Because of the intimate space and locally-sourced ingredients the small menu is frequently changing – often in response to ideas and requests from patrons.  When I dined there we enjoyed chicken wings from a local farm served with chicken feet – this is a common delicacy in some cuisines but an exciting and unusual choice for the Station North crowds.  My companions enjoyed some in-house cocktails – the bar makes all their own mixes including a refreshing ginger-lime syrup and some homemade ice cream.

1)  When was Beatnik founded?  Where can we find it?

Beatnik was founded just about 3 months ago, after our first meeting. The name came to both Steve and I – but it was really when we met at Steve’s place in the Copy Cat [Noted Baltimore Artist’s Residences] with our head chef Gerry Mac and a bottle of wine that we sort of figured out the vision.

2)  Tell me about your head chef.

Gerry, well, he was my roommate for a minute in a house that was crumbling. I knew I really liked and respected him when we’d have house meetings and he’d be really quiet – the rest of us would banter and I’d complain, then Gerry would summarize and cynically solve things.  He’s crazy smart and sort of under the radar – then you see that he has a really we;ll-ought-out point of view.  Gerry has hung out in Baltimore for a while and is notorious for making pork belly tacos at shows – I mean, it says a lot about his style and him that he’s on show bills for cooking.  He’s intense; he’s a badass.

3)  You use many locally-sourced ingredients.  Why is this important?  What’s a specific dish that benefits from this?

All of our cooking ingredients, except spices, are locally sourced.  It doesn’t just benefit a dish, it benefits everything we do.  Gerry gets to pick out the best quality ingredients he can find.  He has relationships with everyone whom he gets food from.  It’s a benefit for all involved – a labor of love and an ethical position.  It’s like the difference between the paper you wrote in a class you hate and the manifesto you composed to nail on a church.

 

4)  What are you bringing with you from (their last project) Bohemian Coffee Shop?  What are you leaving behind?

We traded high ceilings for low ceilings.

At Bohemian we biked to work early in the morning turned on some music, prepped food and brewed some coffee With good intentions and spirit, we woke up Station North, and I think now were tucking you in with Artisanal beer, and hand crafted cocktails.

 

5)  People think of a certain demographic for Station North bars – maybe “hipsters” is a poor term but generally people defined as young, creative and student types.  Baltimore is of course much more then this.  How will you engage other demographics?

Shit, if we are defining hipsters as everyone who likes really creative, high quality and affordable food and drink, then the two middle aged women who worked for NASA that were just in, maybe they’re hipsters. Doesn’t everyone like Beach House?  I mean we are in a part of town that maybe most Hopkins professors haven’t been to but if you do things right and serve stuff you can’t get anywhere else the people who appreciate that stuff will come.

Our walls are a bit weird, our jukebox frequently plays Tom Waits and Future Islands, but I think if you aren’t coming from a world where you know about those things, it’s more of an experience and not threatening.  There’s a ring through my nose but I’m also wearing a button-up.

6)  You have to eat at one of the Great-American silly chain restaurants.  Which one do you choose and why?  Personally I go with Olive Garden because of the Unlimited Breadsticks ™.

My girlfriend and I go to hooters around once a month to watch UFC.  I don’t know if admitting to this is going to cost me business but I skip going to shows on certain Saturdays and eat over-priced wings and watch Frankie Edgar.  I look forward to it all month.

Full disclosure:  This is in no way an objective review or profile – What Weekly is glad to have a relationship with Beatnik and we will be hosting our inaugural Social Club event there on Sunday, August 18th.