My last supper at the Squeaky Bean...in photos

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Lori Midson
On Sunday afternoon, following brunch service, the Squeaky Bean, one of our favorite restaurants on the planet, closed -- not because the joint was in the toilet, or the entire kitchen crew walked out, or owner Johnny Ballen told one too many bad bean jokes. That had nothing to do with it: The Bean shuttered because Ballen and the rest of the Bean brass couldn't strike an agreement with the owners of Rosa Linda's -- the Bean's landlords -- about a lease extension and proposed kitchen expansion, which chef Max MacKissock desperately needs (and deserves). And, really, the whole thing sucks, because now the Bean has to find a new plot to sprout, and who knows how long that's going to take?

On the upside, while the Squeaky Bean -- the restaurant -- has wilted, it'll reopen on July 8 as the Occidental, a cocktail den that'll swagger the prowess of bar manager and star-tender Sean Kenyon, along with charcuterie, caviar, oysters and small plates from MacKissock. "We all have mixed feelings about this," says MacKissock. "We're happy that we have the opportunity to move on and find another space, which will give us the resources to do something really, really cool, and we're super-excited about the Occidental, but we put our heart and soul into the Squeaky Bean, and it's never going to be like this again."

While that may be true, MacKissock and his crew spent the weekend cooking their hearts out for a full house, and on Friday night, a friend and I staked out two seats at the bar and reveled -- often wistfully -- in what was our last supper at the Bean. Everything MacKissock created was off-menu, which is my favorite way to eat. "It was all pretty impromptu, but we had some great ingredients in the kitchen that I wanted to play with, and I wanted to do some really fun stuff."

He did, not surprisingly, all that and more.

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Lori Midson
Seasonality is everywhere apparent -- as it should be -- in MacKissock's dishes, and his spring skewer of morel mushrooms and artichoke hearts, sheeted in shiny lardo -- pure pig fat -- courtesy of Masterpiece Deli, was further elevated by the presence of vibrant English pea soubisse and artichoke foam.

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Lori Midson
MacKissock's take on Billi Bi (cream of mussels soup) was superb: He took poached mussels, sunk them in a spring-onion puree bobbing with coins of citrus-spiked Spanish chorizo and, as a final touch, crowned the soup with a carrot-and-saffron foam.

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Lori Midson
This dish, a spiderweb of dehydrated red onions straddling fried tortillas and a sphere of whipped carnitas, scented with cumin and orange and cooked in fat, was simply incredible. MacKissock dotted it with citrus coriander blossoms and dabs of avocado mousse and crème fraiche.

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Lori Midson
It rained fat on Saturday night, especially when this plate graced the bar: a forest of leaves -- swiss chard, kale and red orach spinach from the Squeaky Bean garden -- were gently squeezed by slices of smoked duck flurried with shavings of foie gras torchon. Loved the Bing cherries, too, puddled in a red-wine gastrique.

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Lori Midson
Tarps of Wagyu carpaccio festooned with French potato chips, nasturtium leaves, orbs of bone marrow, soaked in milk, then tempura-fried and snowed with microplaned horseradish.

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Lori Midson
Pan-seared halibut cheeks, cubes of compressed watermelon, slivers of watermelon radishes, prosciutto-wrapped melon and arugula flowers appeared in a stark white bowl before the dish was showered with a Pamesan brodo.

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9 comments
Jonsen
Jonsen

Thanks God its finally over, jesus Lori did you lick the bathroom floors?

Mantonat
Mantonat

I remember being dismayed when Lola closed its original location on South Pearl. Not only has the new location flourished, but it basically spurred the renaissance of the entire Lower Highland neighborhood. I really hope the Squeaky Bean folks are as creative with the choice of their new location as they are with their menu so that we'll not only have a better place to enjoy the great food, but the new neighborhood will benefit from its presence. And if I hear even one person complain about the new liquor license, I will personally have them mauled by bears.

Matt4c
Matt4c

If the Landlord was not accomodating regarding a new lease why are they staying and opening another joint in the same place???

guest
guest

Except now she will have two places to fawn over - the new SB and the new bar in this space.

Kimberly
Kimberly

I would have to agree with you, Matt4c. Not sure why they would even want to continue contributing to the landlord's financial success when their landlord obviously isn't concerned about their ability to do well as a restaurant.

I'll tell you one thing, Rosa Linda's has definitely lost a customer, as I think their entire approach to this dispute was petty and small-minded.

Davidcook
Davidcook

The landlord was not accommodating in allowing them to expand the kitchen into the space next door. I assume they had no problem getting a new lease/renewing their lease, since they did. Their chef needs more space to work his magic!

Francis
Francis

The falt here is with the owners of the Bean. They knew the conditions of the lease when they signed it. No one can blame Rosa Linda's for the Bean's owner's lack of business sence. Who in their right mind would sign a short term lease with a renewal. Why would any one expect Rosa Linda's to reduce the size of their space so the Bean could expand? The Bean team is most likely the ones full of hot air. They will do fine somewhere else. They will  learn from this experience and move on.

Francis
Francis

Sorry! with out a renewal.

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