THE DINING REPORT – BIWA

Sucking Up That Never Ending Noodle

Well, Spring is blooming in our fair city, but unlike last year at this time, Restaurant Roulette is not burgeoning and busting out at the seams with the advent of the finer weather, in fact it’s struggling mightily. I’ve tried to figure out what I might be doing wrong with the dinners, and the roster, and have decided that there really isn’t anything wrong with the restaurants I’m putting out there (okay, Eleni’s was a mistake, but tons of people came to that one, so I guess quality has nothing to do with it.) Since my restaurant selection seems fine, and I’ve had some of the best food ever since January, all I can say is that the issue must be with you guys. Hey you guys, YOU’RE SCREWING UP!!!! You’re missing out on some really excellent food, and much worthwhile conversation to boot.

A good case in point, our Leap Year dinner at Biwa (That should have drawn masses alone, a leap year dinner.) IMG_0192.JPGBiwa, like many restaurants these days that barely have reservations, has a six person minimum to have a table there and awaiting you, and I struggled incredibly just to come up with four. I don’t know if by reading the RSVP notice you thought this place might be one step up from the corner Pho shack, but if that was your interpretation of what I was describing, you could not have been more wrong. Biwa is cutting edge, exciting, and completely attractive, a gem hidden at the bottom of the hulking, looming Pine Street Theater building, staking it’s rightful corner in a building also housing the always highly praised Sympathica Dining Hall and other interesting food and non-food enterprises.

As many members of our humble group hail from elsewhere, they might not be familiar with the Pine Street Theater Building. This enormous edifice, just a few blocks from Sandy, Burnside, and MLK has hosted a variety of uses since its beginning as a Christian church, including being a Church of Scientology, and several incarnations connected to live music and performance, among them the “Pine Street Theater,” “The 9th Street Exit,” “La Luna,” and the unfortunate sounding dance club, “The Womb.” After several years of hard times and ongoing disrepair, the building was bought by a developer around 2005 and broken into many leasable spaces, Biwa now being where I’m told the 9th St. Exit was originally housed.IMG_0193.JPG The somewhat gothic Georgian architecture of this building has always inspired doom in my soul upon arrival, there’s just something about the outside of this place that has seemed the stuff of horror movies to me. I’ve continually envisioned it looming somewhere out on a dark and foggy English moor, filled with the criminally insane, werewolves, and Frankensteins having really bad hair days. If they had not chosen that fake looking computer generated thing for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” I know it could have been filmed at the Pine Street Theater Building, there’s just something creepy about this behemoth. (more…)

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