Desserts are less Southern than they might be, other than a red-velvet cake ($7) done in four layers with enough cream-cheese frosting for a carrot cake. Key lime pie ($7) didn't have it; our night, it was a small piece of pie without the tartness of key limes. Pecan pie ($7) made up for it with a larger slice, and a good balance of sugar filling, flaky crust, and pecans. Decaf coffee ($2) was excellent — we may have caught the first pot. Tea ($2) is a choice of bags, and with luck they will brew.
Service was quite good, even as the room filled up. The owner, Darryl Settles, comes out to chat with customers, and we gave him a good report. The weeknight crowd is more or less the old mix of yuppies, buppies, and neighbors, except now we are older. A back room is often in use for private parties, and Monday nights the restaurant is reserved for private events and fundraisers. The décor seems fresh and original, although careful observers will note the row of circles above an exterior sign left from the month Circle Plates was here, and one wall of point-source light bulbs held over from the somewhat longer run of the Stork Club. The new place is back to bare brick and lighter wood accents, but the dominant visual for me is outstanding jazz art, from the iconic Hakim Raquib portraits of Miles, Aretha, and B.B. King at the entrance, on to the collages of Ekua Holmes, and some great older photos of jazz greats by Lou Jones. To see a young McCoy Tyner sitting on a bench in Blackstone Park takes me closer to the days when this space was Bob the Chef's than the wings or the catfish fingers, or even if they came up with a slice of pumpkin pie.
Okay, you want the dirt? In between Bob's Southern Bistro and Darryl's Corner Bar, Settles owned a piece of the Beehive with three other partners. And now he doesn't, and the lawyers know the rest. The food and design of the Beehive were the province of the others. What Settles put in, and now brings back to the old corner, were the social and musical connections. I like both places, so this column will take no sides.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.