Bahia (say it with me [ba-HE-a]) Social Club is a newer spot to come into the West End at 832 W Beech St. Bahia, meaning bay in Spanish, is described as a “Tapas Style Brazilian Cuisine & Social Club,” and I found the food good, but the bill high. More impressions follow below.
From the white outside to the cool and fresh inside, the place looks comfortable and clean without having a sterile feel to it. Outside, a few tables sit on Beech and wrap around onto Nebraska. Inside a nice central bar is located in the front of the room, with additional seating in the back. The restaurant has a very casual and open feel to it, with newer style reggae (Rebeloution, Expendables, Soldiers of Jah Army) playing through the speakers.
There was good crowd – though not packed – for a Tuesday night which always bodes well for a newish place, and the staff and kitchen had no issue keeping up. Speaking of which, both of the waitresses were extremely nice and outgoing.
The drinks were good. Tasty sangria and mojitos, with the menu also including “frozen concoctions” and other Brazilian classics like the caipirinha.
Now, most importantly, the food. Our waitress explained it’s best for a group of two to get 3-5 plates. The one page menu has about a dozen offerings and there are additionally daily specials. I was grabbed from the beginning by the promise of a “spicy tuna taco” from the the sign on the sidewalk so had to get that, along with another special, a half tamale, half burrito stuffed with all sorts of stuff and deep fried called a burmale. To finish off we got the Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo Coca and the Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Coca from the regular menu. Coca is like a heavenly flatbread – or think of it as a mini pizza.
To start with the bad: the “spicy” tuna taco. It came out as a diced salad of raw tuna in a soft taco wrapping. The taste? bland and boring. No spice whatsoever and the wrapping was a cold cheap flour tortilla you could buy at Waldbaums.
The good: everything else. The burmale was incredible. Perfectly golden-fried, with a filling that was incredible. If they could freeze them and sell them at the supermarket, they’d be the best hot pocket ever. Both of the Cocas were also great. The coca itself was a freshly cooked pita-sort bread that had nice spice and oil on it. The goat cheese and roasted tomates: excellent. The shrimp and chorizo on the other was cooked well and had great flavor – and worked together.
One point though, I would have appreciated if our waitress pointed out that we basically got two very similar dishes (both stuff served on bread), because when I was ordering, I didn’t realize they were so similar. My fault, but being a first time guest at the Bahia Social Club, a little more guidance would have helped. To get a more full taste of the food, the next time I’m back, I’d like to try the chicken skewers, skirt steak, and mussels.
So besides the one bomb, the other three dishes were great and I enjoyed them, the drinks, and the “scene.” The one con in this whole experience for me though was the steep price tag, which I’ll allow you to add yourself via their menu. When I think tapas, I think a feeding frenzy of little tastes and lots of plates. At these prices though – some costing nearly the same as an entree (two items are $14 each) at other establishments – it kind of stifles the tapas concept. From my perspective there either needs to be some price adjustments made or a “special” tapas list that is a bit cheaper on weekday nights.
Additionally reading up on them, they have live music on Thursdays and a happy hour Fridays. For more information, refer to their Facebook Page.
So besides one food qualm, and me being a grumpy old man about the prices, I enjoyed this addition to the West End and look forward to having a coca in the future. Have you had a chance to go here yet?