Post and Beam is just a restaurant, right? On Tuesday night you'd have been forgiven for thinking otherwise. The Baldwin Hills eatery was packed with a line that stretched into the parking lot, and some patrons even reported ticket-scalping. That's how badly people wanted to get into the joint.
New York culinary rock star Marcus Samuelsson was in town for a one-night collaboration with Govind Armstrong. The cause? "A Taste of Harlem in Baldwin Hills," a benefit for Careers through Culinary Arts (C-CAP), a program that puts underserved high school students on the path to restaurant jobs. Chef Nyesha Arrington, who currently works with C-CAP students at The Wilshire, was on hand for the $140/person dinner, which featured an array of dishes melding Armstrong's menu with Samuelsson's Ethiopian fare.
Served family-style, most of the meal – braised oxtail with fried plantains, chopped kale salad, crawfish beignets -- could have come straight from Armstrong's modern American, farm-to-table playbook. Some of it did: Deviled eggs with chunks of smoky catfish are a Post and Beam standby, and every time we eat them (preferably by the half-dozen) we remember why. It would have been nice to see more of Samuelsson in the mix, especially since his injera "tacos" – crisp, fried triangles of the spongy Ethiopian flatbread topped with mildly spiced beef tartare – were so original and appetizing. Now we have one more reason to visit Harlem and dine at Red Rooster.