"Don't buy into the hype", that was the thought rolling through my head on my first visit to Beasley's Chicken and Honey. I had eaten at Pooles Diner, Ashley Christensen's well-acclaimed flagship restaurant but people were REALLY excited for her upcoming trifecta of gourmetness on Wilmington Street. Beasley's was designed to deliver solid comfort food with the Christensen twist but at much lower price points. While I enjoyed my first couple of visits to Beasley's I really wasn't blown away. Comfort food is just that, simple basic food that warms the heart but is rarely super interesting in my eyes. The menu was so short and the food came out so quickly, I was concerned the menu was designed for efficiency over a great eating experience. So Beasley's fell off my list of restaurants to dine at for a while.
Fast forward to a couple of months back. Friends that I trust are talking up Beasley's chicken and Sunday brunch options. Looks like it's time to come back for a visit and yes, I think things have improved a lot at Beasley's. While I'm still not a 100% sold on the communal table idea, the place has a great feel and I ended up eating at the bar again. The menu's been expanded to include some bar bites and there's just more choices which is great. For appetizers we start off with a fried Carolina shrimp with a smokey remoulade (mayonnaise based sauce). Out comes a plate of crunchy fried shrimp, nearly like a tempura: very lightweight coating with a lot of texture. Dee-licious! The shrimp are plump and tender, dab some of the very smoky sauce on top and you've got yourself a wonderful bite.
While my cousin ordered up the quintessential fried chicken, I went with the meatloaf (berkshire pork shoulder) and mashies. Out comes a medium sized bowl with a nice, thick seared piece of loaf, drizzled with gravy and on top of a bed of mashies. Loved the meatloaf, I believe it was fried on the griddle giving it a bit of a snappy crust before giving way to the meatiness underneath. The gravy makes for a nice savoriness and the mashies were decent but could have been whipped up a bit better. Overall a great comforting bowl of meat and potatoes, I definitely enjoyed this dish. The side of succotash with fresh butter beans was awesome, a melange of well-cooked and seasoned veggies.
I had plans to do the silk chocolate pie with soft cream but just could not make it to the final course. Portion-size at Beasley's is decent so maybe next time. And with very reasonable prices the place really hits the mark for a casual meal. The place was bustling but service was still solid and helpful, they do a great job here. So Beasley's, way to step up your game and change up the menu a bit. While the fried chicken is still quite good, I love having some additional entree choices. So I have to tip my hat to Chef Christensen, fantastic job making your food delicious and accessible to everybody!
237 S. Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
Beasley's Chicken and Honey - Reviewer: Ron Wen - Rating: 4 out of 5 stars