Lunch Break at Beck

There’s been a lot of buzz about Robert Wiedmaier’s new restaurant Brasserie Beck , which just opened a few days ago. Beyond the hype, I had two personal reasons for wanting to try it – celebrating the end of the construction of the new office building it’s located in, which has been making a hell of my morning bus commute for the past several months, and casing it as a potential pitstop on my new post-work walking routine (who needs a water break when you can have a Tremens?).

Beck is on the “unfashionable side” of the K Street Corridor at 1101 K, where there are many empty lots under heavy construction, bound to eventually be unrecognizable when the old Convention Center site is redeveloped. Given that, I was curious how crowded it would be at 1pm on Friday (not at all) and what kind of diner would be present (business casuals). It will be interesting to see what happens as word gets out that it’s open and it picks up. That much-quoted “European train station” interior could get very loud indeed, and I’m not sure about the almost cafeteria-style tables. Hopefully when filled with people it will have a lively, inviting feel perfect for its Belgian beer and comfort dishes.

But enough of the obligatory atmosphere rap, how was the food?

In retrospect, I had completely the wrong meal for my lunch at Beck. Honestly, knowing I had to return to my office and face editing a 100-page financial plan, I knew if I had any of the tempting bistro fare, my head would hit the desk. My heart’s desire was for the “Lamb Shank with White Bean Cassoulet,” or the “Roasted Rabbit Loin in Kriek Beer.” But I compromised with the salad of “Tomato, Avocado, Shrimp, Hearts of Palm & Maria Rose Sauce” instead. My friend had the “Napoleon of Vine Ripe Tomato, Pipe Dream Goat Cheese & Scallion Balsamic Dressing” – and deemed the luscious red tomatoes “Worthy of the Third World” (I don’t know what she means either, but she recently returned from a long sojourn in Nigeria and said it was the highest compliment). Both of our salads were exceptionally beautiful and perfectly constructed medallions that managed to straddle the line between decadent and healthy.

For my main course I completely missed the boat and had oysters on the half shell (In May! Egads, girl, what were you thinking? But they were West Coast oysters, and this is the Age of Refrigeration! Sigh.). They were fine, but looking at my friend’s red bistro pan of plump mussels steamed in a curry apple sauce and a side bowl of frites, well, it was hard not to have plate envy. The smell alone was enough to drive me mad. My mistake, more incentive to return! Luckily she let me sample a few tasty morsels and more than a few salty crisp frites.

Feeling reckless by the knowledge that both our bosses were out of town and we could indulge in a two-hour lunch, dessert was ordered. Her “Gateau of Chocolate” looked like a chocolate bomb and tasted like a cloud. With the “Pear Tarte Tatin & Cinnamon Ice Cream” I struck gold. This was a dreamy, harmonious pastry, agonizing not to finish. So of course, I finished it.

Looks like I’m going to have to walk to work in the mornings, too.

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