Originally created 05/28/03

Bee's Knees tempts exotic palate



You can munch on falafel, goat-cheese bruschetta, garlicky shrimp, calamari, spicy Louisiana crab cakes and other exotic fare at The Bee's Knees on 10th Street.

It's a tapas bar, which means each dish is served appetizer-style, brought out separately with several minutes between deliveries. This system might seem annoying, but it works out. And don't worry, there's plenty of food to go around - make that more than plenty.

The menu features a variety of foods, including hummus, shrimp and vegetable tempura, l'assiette des fromages and pad Thai with tofu. I ventured beyond my usual chicken-fingers basket with fries and ordered samosas (spicy Indian pastries filled with potatoes, peas and carrots) with a cilantro yogurt chutney, tuna carpaccio (thinly sliced sashimi grade yellow-fin tuna with ripe avocados in an Asian vinaigrette), goat-cheese bruschetta (toasted baguettes topped with herb goat-cheese spread, spinach, black olives and Roma tomatoes), and spicy Louisiana crab cakes.

I was nervous about the tuna carpaccio because I'm not a big fan of raw (or slightly smoked) fish. But I was pleasantly surprised at the taste, thanks to the vinaigrette and wasabi sauce.

The samosas were a little dry and more of the cilantro yogurt chutney could have been added. I absolutely loved the goat-cheese bruschetta. I despise black olives, but with the combination of all the toppings, I hardly noticed them.

My favorite was the spicy Louisiana crab cakes. Homemade with crab-claw meat seasoned with Cajun spices and a roasted red pepper sauce, the crab cakes definitely were at the top of my list. They weren't too spicy, but just spicy enough.

The food isn't the only great thing about the restaurant.

The Bee's Knees offers a casual-dining experience, so you and your date don't have to dust off the tux and evening gown and sport around in wingtips and 2-inch-high heels the whole night.

But you can if you want.

That's what's so great about the little place. You can dress up or down - Versace or Levi's ... your choice.

The ambiance is subdued but romantic. One of the first items you'll notice is a large painting of young girls and cherubs on the wall facing the entrance. Vases filled with wild flowers give a light feel, and a piano and several other instruments tucked away in a corner suggest that the place comes alive with music at night.

Aside from the full bar - with beer, wine, liquor and sake - there are many seating options. On either side of the main entrance are elevated platforms with tables for a more "outside" dining experience. It's reminiscent of sitting in a display window, but very cozy.

Go early to avoid crowds. On a Wednesday at about 6 p.m., The Bee's Knees was vacant. People didn't start showing up until about 7:15 p.m. The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 3 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays. Night owls are always welcome.

So whether you want to hang with friends or go on an inexpensive, intimate date with a crush, this is the perfect place.

IF YOU GO

THE EATERY: The Bee's Knees, 211 10th St.

AMBIANCE: Subdued and romantic, suitable for a night out with friends or on a date with a crush

COST: Entrees range in price from $3-$8.50

RATING: *** 1/2 out of *****

PHONE: 828-3600

Reach Amy Connell at (706) 823-3220 or amy.connell@augustachronicle.com.