At the Beale, formally known as the Beale Street Café, the restaurant’s décor reflects the spirit of “N’awlins,” but the food most certainly lacks the city’s infamous flavors. It put forth a valiant effort to blend Cajun and American cuisines, but it failed in the execution.
Located on South Avenue, the Beale is adorned with album covers and pictures that evoke the essence of New Orleans, and live jazz music captures the city’s soul. With its dim lighting and eye-catching walls, customers simply cannot stop gazing around the restaurant, seeking out all of the hidden jazz treasures.
Unfortunately, my taste buds did not revel in the same enjoyment as my eyes.
My friends and I started our meal with the macaroni and cheese appetizer — a popular southern dish. The top layer of the mac ’n cheese had toasted breadcrumbs and several Cajun spices, including red pepper flakes. Underneath, the noodles were mixed with both parmesan and cheddar cheese. Although the top layer’s spicy, crunchy bread crumbs against the soft, gooey melted cheese and noodles created a nice flavor, the bottom layer of the dish was one big lump of lukewarm cheese. Needless to say, I had no desire to finish my appetizer.
Following our first course we ordered the pulled pork sandwich platter with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. The pork was smoked and then marinated in a homemade barbeque sauce. This classic southern dish, if executed correctly, can be an extremely filling and savory meal with the blending of the various flavors; yet, sadly, this was not the case.
The sandwich arrived cold, and who really wants to eat a cold pulled pork sandwich? After failing to locate our waitress, we asked another to heat it up. She returned five minutes later with the sandwich, which had clearly been put in the microwave. Still, the pulled pork was no warmer than when we had sent it back. Due to the temperature issues, the dish was mediocre and unmemorable.
The next item we ordered was the blackened chicken entrée — a chicken breast cooked in Cajun spices and blacked in an iron skillet. It came with two sides — corn bread and macaroni salad.
My very first bite of the chicken sent my taste buds into overdrive, but not in a good way. The chicken was covered in so much salt that, after each bite, I found myself gulping down water at a rapid speed. Additionally, because its large quantity, the salt overpowered the Cajun spices of pepper and thyme.
The sides were no more impressive than the chicken. The macaroni salad was not made with the peppers and carrots it claimed to have. Instead, the salad consisted of macaroni noodles with a generous amount of mayonnaise and, as a result, was too heavy to enjoy.
Finally, the corn bread — another classic southern food — was also a disappointment. This corn bread was odd in that it had a thick layer of sugar on top and lacked its rich, traditional texture.
The dessert selection included chocolate cake, homemade bread pudding with bourbon and pecan pie. Despite my sweet tooth, I resisted ordering anything more because everything else was so unsatisfactory.
The mediocre meal at the Beale was supplemented with ordinary service; we often had trouble getting our waitress’ attention and she rarely came to check on us.
Overall, if you are in the mood for a light appetizer accompanied by some low-key jazz music, then the Beale is the right restaurant for you. But, if you are looking for some real, spicy Cajun cuisine, then I recommend steering clear.
Berkowitz is a member of the class of 2012.