For a place that’s been open for just under a month now, the atmosphere and staff at Bellwether exude a lived-in feeling that makes the restaurant more like an old haunt. Husband-and-wife duo Josh Cohen and Blair Papagni have taken the former Royal Oak space and turned it into a seafood-leaning American restaurant that deftly weaves together traits that come across in their other joints–the ability to create a great menu (Anella and Calyer) while highlighting their love of music (St. Vitus).
After months of standing on the tips of my toes to get a glimpse into the highly set windows on Union Street, I finally made it in on a recent weeknight. Pristine modern Scandinavian décor furnishes a space so expansive it seems that the mirrors are playing spacial tricks.
After deliberation over the raw menu, the oysters made a nice, light start to the heavier selections that were to follow. The olive oil soup was exceedingly rich, but managed to be light on my tongue at the finish of each spoonful. Served with two pieces of speck wrapped around Taleggio cheese, it was a good dish for sharing in that you don’t need much, but it’s worth tasting.
For the entree, I went with the seared cod, which arrived in a sweet ginger jus, topped with brussel sprouts. It was deliciously delicate and separated the second my fork rested upon it. The portions are smaller in size, but the density of flavor in each bite leaves you well-satiated.
The space is equipped with an impressive sound system that not only sounds good, but looks pretty hot, too. Hanging throughout the front room are beautiful, wooden Klipschorn speakers that did away with the visions of large, obtrusive black speakers and tangles of cords I had when I heard that the restaurant was also a DJ hot spot. Not the case!
The recent DJ roster has included, No Ordinary Monkey and Mellow Doubt. The large back room is separated from the dining room in such a way that you could host a raging dance party with unwitting diners in the front being left none-the-wiser. It’s safe to say that this back room will be in the foggy memories of numerous birthday parties to come.
They’ve also instituted Classic Album Sundays ($10), an event imported from the UK described as a “communal and audiophile listening experience.” Bellwether selects an album to play from start to finish, starting the with artists and songs that inspired that album and then playing the chosen work in its entirety. The lights are low, cell phones off and the vinyl sings through the state-of-the-art hi-fi. This past Sunday, they kicked off the series with Bob Dylan’s classic, Blood on the Tracks. No word yet on future selections. Maybe Rumors for a divorce-rock Sunday evening.