More than just a pretty space – and it is very pretty – Brewery Bhavana has been named one of the 50 best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit magazine.
Brewery Bhavana is the only North Carolina restaurant to be included in Bon Appetit’s annual roundup of what’s best among the openings of the last year. In the Southeast, restaurants are represented from Charleston, S.C., Nashville, Tenn., Louisville, Ky. and Marietta, Ga.
Bon Appetit will narrow the list of 50 restaurants down to the top 10 on Aug. 15.
The restaurant, though open barely a season, already feels essential, filling the dim sum, brewery, flower shop and bookstore void that no one knew existed in Raleigh.
Van Nolintha, one of Brewery Bhavana’s owners, learned the restaurant made the list early Tuesday morning when a friend in New York texted him. He said the restaurant took three years to develop and that his team is proud to represent North Carolina in a national magazine.
“It’s an exciting honor,” Nolintha said. “It’s really exciting to see something from North Carolina on the list. It’s not about competition, it’s about celebrating and inspiring one another. The community in North Carolina is so rich and creative.”
The magazine loves the soup dumplings, crab fried rice and what it calls “textbook perfect” Peking duck. It might go without saying when honoring a brewery, but the magazine says not to skip out on the beer, even if it’s not usually your drink. With at least a dozen styles, there’s something for every taste, the magazine says.
Sometimes it’s hard to hold two ideas in the same mind, and yet Brewery Bhavana manages to be four things at once. The light marble bar, stunning and bright, looks like it’s pulled from another time, proving beer will be served in the future. Bouquets in the flower shop are made all the more fragrant with sprigs of herbs.
“Brewery Bhavana is not a concept,” Nolintha said. “We did not somehow have this idea to be four different offerings. It’s an honest offering of things we already love.”
The dining room offers nooks behind sheer curtains, and a communal bookshelf at the back makes Raleigh, the city, feel like it has a stake in the place.
“It celebrates the makers in our lives, zooming deeper into those components,” he said. “Everything really comes back to the idea of the market, where traditionally you have all these different things. That’s what Brewery Bhavana has become. A place to share the things we truly love, a gathering space for different people to come together.”
With the different personalities in the same large room, Nolintha hopes the restaurant will attract customers and diners from all backgrounds.
“What we were really hoping Brewery Bhavana would become is a living room for the city, a place where people of all walks of life can coexist in one space, people who wouldn’t otherwise overlap,” he said. “If you create a space where folks feel celebrated, collaboration and empathy can be a product of that and lead to greater understanding.”
So far, Brewery Bhavana’s beer can only be found at the restaurant or on the draft list of a handful of spots around town. But in the next few weeks Nolintha said it will begin releasing bottles of its sour beers, and soon after that, cans of some of its other styles. He said they’re also filling more kegs for distribution.
Drew Jackson; 919-603-4943; @jdrewjackson