Cafe Beautiful-Lawrence

November 30, 2009 at 10:00 am 3 comments

As we walked into Cafe Beautiful, my son and I were immediately captivated by the serene tableau that lay before us. Two tables were carefully set, scented candles filled the air, the lighting was low, and Frank Sinatra crooned in the background. The living room of the chef/owner’s apartment, on the second floor of a non-descript building on Massachusetts Ave in Lawrence, was the unlikely setting for a memorable and relaxing evening.

Chef Ken Suken is a delight. He is committed to ensuring his guests are happy–he’s the host of a very intimate party and we were the only guests.  One table at a time allows him to focus all of his attention on cooking, serving…and washing dishes.  And, while the other table in the room was booked with a later reservation, Chef Suken assured us that we should feel free to linger as our table was reserved for us the entire evening.

We settled in with the wine we had brought, leaned back in our comfortable chairs, and prepared to be dazzled. Which we were, right from the get-go. From the first course to the eighth and last, the production was unlike anything either of us had ever experienced. This is one talented man.

Each course was well-timed and came with a complete and poetic description of what was on the plate. I expected the food to be good, but I was unprepared for the depth and texture of flavors, and picture-perfect presentation. Though I took a picture of all the courses,  they simply did not adequately depict the care and pride that Chef Suken showered us with throughout the evening.

The pictures below have captions that describe each dish. (For some reason, I am missing the 5th course, which was king salmon with an asian pear reduction sauce, paired with king crab salad and mustard sauce.) We finished with a sweet pomegranate tea.

miso soup with seafood, vegetables-Cafe Beautiful-Lawrence

Miso Soup with seafood, tofu and vegetables

fruit salad with ginger dressing-Cafe Beautiful-Lawrence

Fruit salad with ginger dressing

custard with shrimp

egg custard with shrimp baked in a baby pumpkin

Seafood salad with butterflied shrimp and seared white tuna topped with wasabi vinaigrette

Seafood salad with butterflied shrimp and seared white tuna, topped with wasabi vinaigrette

Red snapper with a citrus soy sauce in an ice "bowl"

red snapper sashimi with a citrus soy sauce served in an "ice bowl"

Eel in eel sauce, with vegetable sushi

Eel with eel sauce, and vegetable sushi

This is an ideal place to go with a close friend or family member with whom you enjoy spending time. There are no distractions–it’s just you and your companion(s) for more than two hours, so pick wisely! You will leave happy, relaxed and satisfied.

Be sure to call ahead. Since Cafe Beautiful only seats eight, it’s reservations only, no walk-ins.

Cafe Beautiful on Urbanspoon


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. midwest_kitchen  |  December 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I have been wanting to try Chef Suken’s place for quite a while but my wife doesn’t like sushi/most seafood. I was curious what the price range would be for a meal there so I can try to hook a friend into going.

  • 2. Coolhandluke  |  January 11, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    My wife and I were there this past Friday. Your description of your experience matched ours very well. It was an incredible experience, from the food to the atmosphere to Suken’s incredible hosting.

    I was curious how often he changes the menu. Your meal looks nearly identical to ours, so he obviously doesn’t change it more than once every few months. That’s ok, though because I don’t think I can afford to go more often than that.

    @midwest_kitchen – my wife was hesitant as well as she does not enjoy seafood. But she left full, satisfied, and wanting to go back! When I made the reservation, I indicated my wife’s hesitation to raw fish and Suken made an alternate sashimi dish for her and encouraged her to try mine, which she did. The seafood is so excellently prepared that it is impossible not to enjoy, even for those who do not like seafood.

    The price came to $138 for two of us before tip. It’s also BYOB. Suken will cork and serve your wine or sake for you.

    It’s an amazing experience and I’m sure your wife will LOVE it!

    • 3. Mary Bloch  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:24 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed Cafe Beautiful as much as we did. I don’t think the chef changes the menu except as necessary to make sure the fish and vegetables he serves are the freshest available. But, as you said, it’s not the kind of place you’d go to often, so it doesn’t really matter.


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