Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello 909 Saloon, Goodbye Beijing

We’d been waiting for months for the opening of a number of new restaurants downtown. Huck’s never made it and Foodē is still “coming soon,” but a couple of weeks ago, the 909 Saloon finally opened its doors at 909 Caroline St., in the space formerly occupied by Basil’s. We’d been watching its progress all fall, and had gotten a preview one day when we peered in and were invited on a little private tour. And finally, on a downtown walk last week, the place was open and we stopped in for a drink.

The decor looks like it was designed specifically for my demographic: the walls are filled with photos, posters and album covers of iconic musicians, mostly 60’s and 70’s rockers. The restaurant area is pretty tiny, but in the back, they’ve carved out a small music venue where another shop in the Galleria used to be, where they plan to host musical acts on a regular basis.

The place is owned by Brian Hyland, formerly of J. Brian’s (some of the art will be familiar to long-time customers of J. Brian’s), and the menu is similar: soups, salads, sandwiches and bar fare, but I expect it will all be pretty well done, if the soups we sampled were any indication. We had a “cup” each (really, a pretty good sized bowl) of their black bean soup and chili, and both were very good (I recommend the black bean). They had a relatively small selection of beers, but the ambiance was right up my alley. I expect it will be a go-to place for us when we’re downtown, and I’m hoping it strikes a chord with lots of other F’burgers as well.

In sad news for us, our favorite Chinese restaurant, Beijing on Rt. 3 West, closed its doors at the end of the year. We considered this our “neighborhood” place, since it was only a short drive from home, and it had been a regular stop for our family. Over the many years we’d been going, we had come to know the family, shared the progress of our kids as they grew up, and enjoyed the warm welcome, good food, and wonderful memories we experienced there. I know the recession has hit many restaurants hard, but I always expected that such an established and popular restaurant could weather the storm. We wish the De family all the best in the future, and will hold out hope that we may see them back in business again somewhere.

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