By: Bryan Donoghue
Picture yourself reclined in a lounge chair on a beach in Barbados. Directly above you, coconut trees lightly sway in the wind, as the sun breaches between leaves and streams of light shine through. Many can imagine the way this feels, but in stark contrast to a country near the equator, we live in Humboldt County. Although both are regarded as beautiful locations internationally, it’s difficult to find an authentic experience can that represent that essence of the Caribbean. That is, until I stumbled upon a restaurant off of G Street in Eureka.
A Taste of Bim is run by a mother and daughter duo who have brought their own experience from cooking in Barbados (also known as “bim”) to the United States, using traditional spices and recipes. The atmosphere walking in is ambient, yet illuminated in certain areas with low white and yellow lighting. In the open kitchen beyond the bar, splashes of fire rise into the air as you can see food being made from the comfort of your seat. The festive theme centers in on Barbadian culture, while a cheerful playlist of multicultural music assures you, as the customer, that you’re about to have an experience reminiscent of paradise. The restaurant was continuing to serve one family as I walked in; all other seats were empty.
The waitress Debbie, who conducted herself to be both calm and cordial, immediately sat me and we briefly went over the menu. She started me off with Caribbean lemonade; a sweet drink that is made from fresh lemonade, raw cane sugar, and dried hibiscus leaves. It was absolutely delicious and served as a perfect counterbalance to reset the palate every time you try a new dish. I first ordered the doubles, an appetizer consisting of curried chickpeas that are topped and sandwiched over two pieces of flatbread. The curry began to overpower the dish at first, and the flatbread wasn’t sandwiching the chickpeas, but it began to gradually become more mellow as you eat it in unison with everything else. Even for an appetizer it was a lot of food, and mid-meal digestion became necessary.
From there, I ordered the green banana salad. Refreshing and sweet, this salad was tossed together with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and bananas. A little hard to grasp with a fork, and possibly easier to eat with a spoon, this salad was a challenge to eat with one utensil. However, the taste was mouthwatering, and the banana pantomimes something akin to a dessert, while still giving it the health benefit any salad would.
The finale of my experience had to have been a magnum opus for short rib. The meat was braised to cook slowly, and as the food reached my table, I immediately realized I would not need a knife to cut into it. Tender, lean, and just barely held together; this meat was perfectly cooked. It surrounded rice pilaf that had been cooked with beans, and then a thick savory gravy was poured over the top of the entire plate. The taste was refined yet so complex that I couldn’t even think of a single spice used to create that symphony of flavor. To me, it was impeccable. Through the entire experience, more customers began to come in; and even still, Debbie was entirely accommodating.
I have to admit, I left with a smile. The pricing is anywhere from around $15-20 for a main dish, and around $10 or less for an appetizer or salad. Now picture yourself in that lounge chair again, but this time in Humboldt. The sun might not be shining every day, but if you’re looking for that warm Caribbean feeling, consider having A Taste of Bim.