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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

501 Speakeasy

It's always a good sign when I open a restaurant's door and the Stones' "Paint It Black" greets me. That tells me the place has good taste in music and I'm hopeful that trickles down to their food. After having lunch at 501 Speakeasy yesterday I am happy to report that is indeed the case.

The girl and I were looking for something different yesterday so instead of making the usual right when we hit Campbell Avenue, we made the left to seek out the new eatery. One of the advantages of not being in the "heart of downtown" is parking is no problem so no worries about the tires getting chalked and winding up with a ticket on my windshield.

501 Speakeasy has a cool vibe without the hipster attitude. I didn't have my camera so only got the one shot above with the girl's phone. The stools, reminiscent of a Brooklyn luncheonette sans the glass jar of pretzel rods, line a counter. Tables sprinkle the space, with a couch and seating area tucked away in the back. Since there was a card on each table with dates of performances, I'm assuming that's where live music is played on the weekends. The art on the walls reminded me of the old Lower East Side's punk rock galleries before they were gobbled up by rich developers. When The Cramps "I Was a Teenaged Werewolf" came on, I knew I had to ask who had programmed the music. Pandora did. Gotta check that out.

Location, check. Music, check. Vibe, check. So now for the important parts...the food and service. There's not a huge menu, but there was enough on it for the girl, who is the most picky eater in the world, to find something. Me? I'm not so picky so there were a couple of things from which I had to narrow it down. I chose the Burek Salad which had two spinach and cheese "pastries" which I'm assuming were the bureks, served over greens with cucumbers, roasted red peppers, and tomato. The bureks were delicious -- flaky, not greasy, and heavy on the cheese. The blue cheese dressing was a little thin but quite tasty. The girl chose a chicken taco which she said she would get again. For her one was enough, for me, I would probably need at least two. She also got a caramel iced coffee something which she slurped down to the ice cubes -- a rarity for her.

Our lunch was light enough so that we had room for desserts, and a harder choice to choose only two. Anytime we see Tiramisu we give it a shot. Most places cannot get it right. This Tiramisu was good enough to pack up the leftover and walk through Kohl's with it so it wouldn't go bad in the car, but couldn't hold a candle to the real star -- coconut custard pie.! That was the best coconut custard pie I have ever had. There were no leftovers. The chef came over and let us know his mom made it. Please tell Mom she is a great baker! I definitely look forward to trying more desserts, especially the pies.

501 Speakeasy is waiting on its beer and wine license which is almost a "must" for my husband to eat dinner anywhere. Until that time, I could probably talk him into going there at least for dessert after some sushi. Meanwhile, the girl has found a dinner break place close to the television station, and one where she doesn't have to deal with downtown parking on a Friday night, and can go to alone and not feel uncomfortable.

You know how I feel about supporting local businesses, and 501 Speakeasy is another one I think you should check out. Funny thing -- when I awoke yesterday morning "Don't Worry, Be Happy" kept playing in my head. I had no idea why. As we were paying our bill I noticed a reflection in the mirror of a sign with that exact phrase. Guess my subconscious knew where I would end up later that day. Good job brain!


  1. Oh Elena, I love this restaurant review! Coconut is my favorite of all time thing, next to Tiramisu, which, as you said, is hard to find a good one. I'm going to look up 501 Speakeasy!!! Thankyou!! (loved the review-your should be the food critic for the Roanoke Times)

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