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A couple of Beehive impressions

Caveat: it's early yet. They just opened to the public last Thursday. Insert shakedown cruise disclaimer here.

A gorgeous space: lovely bare bones of its former life as a boiler room or whatever industrial function it once served. Raw ancient brick, steel beams, plus a bunch of cool newly-added chandeliers. The upstairs (street level) is small, quiet. The massive downstairs space is where the action and live music is. A hostess seemed to want to discourage many patrons from going down there the other night. I ignored her, and you should too. It's boring upstairs.

A fair amount of seating downstairs for diners, but the space feels like much more of a nightclub-style destination, potentially holding a thousand patrons at once (not at all what the owners pitched to the neighborhoood, incidentally). Some interesting house cocktails (including a Vesper Martini that James Bond would hardly recognize, with utterly wrong proportions), a bunch of 2.5-glass wine carafes at ridiculous markups, and a wine list that is also largely bereft of interesting bargains. If the crowds swallow these drinks prices, food will be entirely beside the point.

Speaking of food, it's a decidedly mixed bag early on. Some interesting deep-fried veggie apps (I think I detected the influence of Laura Brennan in the tempura lemon slices on one dish), and a passable "Russian"plate of unusual salumi. A $15 burger was dreadful: well done when ordered medium-rare, and served with homemade "frites" that would be fine if pitched as what they are, i.e., homemade but stone-cold potato chips.

I'm impressed with the level of hospitality so far. Much like Pops Restaurant in its first week, I don't think they anticipated the early crowds they got, but the servers put their game faces on.

There's lots of room to improve on the food; I look forward to seeing how they progress on that front. It's a wonderful space; I'd love for it to become a great live-music destination as well as a good place to eat and drink: it has tons of potential.

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  1. I was in there last night, too, very early, just to check it out. Was it known Brennan was in the kitchen? B/c I could have sworn I saw her wandering through the dining room. I was surprised, though, that she would cook under Halberg?

    What's more (I don't think I've read this yet): Frank sighting--Reardon's in the bar. Woohoo!

    3 Replies
    1. re: tatamagouche

      I had definitely heard that Brennan had a consulting role on The Beehive's menu, though I have not seen her in there. Didn't spot Frank, either. Was he upstairs or down?

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Upstairs. Yay! He's such a nice guy.

        Maybe she's just helping out for a bit, then. That would make sense.

        1. re: tatamagouche

          YAY! Sooooo happy that Frank has re-emerged! Can't WAIT to go see the Beehive *and* Frank!

    2. I've only done some late night boozing there so far, but even slammed on a Saturday night, the staff was top-notch in how they handled things. And my friends and I were booozy! This is the kind of night-time destination that I would be a regular at, regardless of the food. But I am interested in trying it out (perhaps after things settle) - I really liked Halberg's food at Via Matta.

      1. Had dinner at Beehive last night. Based on Chow reports and feedback from friends who have already gone, we stuck to what was reported to be good. Did not love the menu, but we enjoyed most of what we ordered (even though the price points are slightly high.) The Bohemian platter was a delicious mix of the previously reported-to-be great-crispy asparagus, eggplant ragout, cranberry bean salad, string cheese, some type of salumi, olives, celery/cucumber salad (in a raita-like dressing), roasted peppers, halved cherry tomatoes, and minted beets with horseradish. But the $21 price tag (did not look at the price when I ordered) came as a bit of a surprise! The burger (as MC Slim points out) is overpriced and to me seemed like an overdressed Wendy's burger; the fries are indeed 'stone-cold potato chips.' The romaine salad was a shock - three or four ribs of romaine with vinaigrette - AND an unannounced ingredient (meaning not listed in the menu description) BREAD CRUMBS - that were bland and really, just unappetizing - like sawdust on top of my salad. When I asked what they were (I thought maybe it was parmesan before I tasted it) our server said they were 'baby' breadcrumbs. WHAT?!?!?!? And on the subject of our server - she was genuinely nice and intent on providing good customer service; but whether owing to the bar and kitchen being off-tempo or her own lack of experience, the service was off. As another DC in our group opined, "Look, you don't come here to eat... " Our tab was $200 for three (including tip), and I don't really know what we got from it besides the 'look-see.' We will definitely go back and sit at the bar... We left just before the music came on as we had tix to another music gig. Cedric was at the bar and adding his usual friendly and professional vibe... we will def go back to enjoy the bar scene.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Small Plates

          I've heard that the upstairs dining room is really loud. Did you sit up or down?

          1. re: slims.mil

            We sat downstairs, right near the stage. Very small table, even for two (we had a third join us). I did not mind the noise - it was convivial.... I actually enjoyed the 'buzzing' in the hive! :-)

          2. re: Small Plates

            "Baby Breadcrumbs"??? I'd love to know what their source is...aren't baby breadcrumbs harvested in the fall - I thought they were out of season.

            1. re: Anniebstn

              Ha ha ha ... I also really hope they are free-range baby breadcrumbs. I hate those factory farmed ones.

          3. Going tonight. How is the music? What should we order - any food recs?

            1 Reply
            1. went last night just for drinks after dinner at sage. i LOVE the space. boston has so few places where grown-ups can go and eat and listen to live music. this fills a sorely neglected niche. frank was upstairs, but my friend and i headed downstairs. cedric was working the floor. i've known him a long time and he informed me their permit is for 300, not 1000, lol. they will eventually have 2 outside patios, one out front for about 90, and eventually one out back for about 100. a massive capacity to be sure.

              the bartender was friendly and my negroni was delicious -- a drink often made badly. i didn't find the drink or beer prices any higher than the rest of the neighborhood. interesting mix of folks, including some decidedly uncomfortable-looking people who had just come from the theatre upstairs. music was totally enjoyable and the acoustics surprisingly good.

              the elegant industrial decor is really appealing and the ladies' room is huge!

              the menu didn't knock my socks off, but i will definitely be heading there often for drinks.

              saw josh at silvertone last week and both he and peter will be tending bar one night a week there too.

              i think this place will be boffo.

              8 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I was there last night and liked it as well. I enjoyed the Beehive Julep and thought the mac and cheese held its own next to my fave, Silvertone's. My friend was thrilled that they could make a good Pimm's Cup (apparently this is difficult for some other Tremont St. establishments). Everyone was happy with what they ordered. Our waiter was fantastic - friendly, knowledgable, and actually let us know when we were over-ordering (how often does that happen?). Will have to try the cod next time- it sounds good. We loved the music and agree that this place was long overdue!

                1. re: hsquare2southend

                  Just ate there last night. The Beehive Julep was great. Wine list is so-so. As far as food goes, some dishes were really interesting and others were boring. Enjoyed the cous cous salad, but you could make it at home. The grilled shrimp were interesting - a little overcooked. Bunch of bacon is a great idea! As for entrees, I tasted the cod, which was really good, and the salmon which was decent, but boring. Desserts baklava, which tasted just like baklava should, and peaches & cream with pine nuts, which was basically a big dish of cream.

                  The space is amazing, and the music great. Boston definitely needs a place like this, but with a $400 price tag for 6 people, it's definitely on the pricier side. I would go again for drinks and apps, but for entrees - probably not unless they even out the menu.

                  1. re: jamaicaplain

                    I concur with a lot of these assessments about the food: cod good, salmon meh. The "Bohemian Platter" is a nice assortment, the jar of pickles tasty (and ridiculously huge -- you must get 50 cornichon-sized pickles in there). Salads are okay. I've already mentioned the failed burger.

                    The puzzler is how unextraordinary the pastas seem so far. The pappardelle is just decent. But the spaghetti is really, really dull. My usual complaint about pastas elsewhere is oversaucing, but this is one rare instance of undersaucing. This baffles me: pastas were always one of Halberg's strengths at Via Matta. I'd love to see these improve.

                    My recent post on one really annoying service issue got moved to Not About Food (though it is partly about the food): www.chowhound.com/topics/407345

                    1. re: jamaicaplain

                      I went with jamaicaplain last night and wholeheartedly concur with the general sentiments of all posters. The space is amazing, the food ok to pretty good (I had the bacon starter - can't complain about bacon - and a pork chop on the bone entree which was quite good and more interesting than the salmon for sure), and the drinks good as well, esp. the negroni.

                      I have to say, though, for a jazz/nightclub space, the performance space/sound set-up still needs some kinks worked out. Last night you could barely hear the vocalists or the congas; hopefully this aspect of the place will be worked out soon. Granted, it was a Saturday and the majority of the crowd wasn't there for the live music, but still...

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    Peter Cip from Silvertone is going to pick up a night at Beehive?

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Josh is bartending at Beehive? Does he have an ownership stake? Or is he best friends with the owner or something?

                      1. re: Alcachofa

                        peter, josh, cedric, etc. all go way back to a place called amsterdam's which is long since r.i.p. they're all just helping out, consulting, whatever you want to call it, for the first few months. no stakes, just industry comraderie..

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Working for Nels (also of West Street Grille) and sister restaurant of Amsterdam's in Newport. All great places. Miss those days!!!

                      1. I went last night after having dinner in the South End with two friends... I thought it was excellent for an end of the night drink and some live tunes. Great crowd and really nice atmosphere. I don't really care if the food is good/bad, cheap/expensive -- there should be more bars like this open in downtown Boston. I really hope they make it and don't turn into yet another steak house.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: unionsquaregrl

                          I doubt that. Word on the street is this place is raking in the bucks as one would expect from the South End's largest, most centrally located adult-oriented boite.