Fida’s owners’ newest concept, Beach House Coffee and Tapas, is bringing the taste of the Caribbean to Lexington. Walking through the doors of what was once a shotgun home located behind Al’s Bar at 109 West Sixth Street, you’re instantly greeted by a big smile, a mix of Komba and Zouk (music traditionally found in Haiti and the West Indies) and a laid back vibe that makes you feel as if you’ve walked up to a little beachside restaurant in the Caribbean. As one of the newest additions to the ever-expanding NoLi Neighborhood, Beach House features a tapas menu that’s focused on items like tacos, bowls, sides and sandwiches. “With the Caribbean culture, the meals will fill you up but it’s more about fellowship,” says owner and chef David Laurenvil. “We created a menu of small dishes not only so you can taste a variety of flavors but also savor a meal with friends and family. Growing up it was a family-style setting and we wanted to introduce that style to Lexington.” Fida’s first popped up at NoLi’s Night Market then Al’s Bar became its permanent home, so it was only natural for Beach House to open up in the same neighborhood. “This area has always had a vibrant, multicultural feel. It only made sense to stay connected to the diversity here in a neighborhood that is growing and thriving,” comments Laurenvil. “It was a 2-year process to get this place going but it’s been worth it”.
Laurenvil, who was born and raised in Miami, learned to cook from his mom Fida. “Everything I grew up eating was hard to find in Lexington so we started with pop-ups around town under mom’s name and then a spot in Al’s bar opened up so we stayed long term and everyone started coming to see us,” recalls Laurenvil. “While my mom isn’t as involved in the cooking for Beach House she’s still involved in tasting my food and giving her feedback,” laughs Laurenvil. “She’s always judging my food and never quite gives me the approval; she always has an opinion but she’s been my best teacher.”
With its natural wood floors, bright walls, live plants and beach-themed artwork featuring ocean waves, gorgeous sunsets and palm trees, you can’t help but picture yourself gathered around one of the bourbon barrel tables with a group of friends as you taste on plates of Jerk Chicken Udon, Jackfruit Tacos, Curried Chickpeas and Fida’s famous black beans and rice, washing it all down with a tropical fruit nectar. “In the Caribbean, there are so many influences from around the world. The Jerk Chicken Udon combines Asian influences of udon noodles with Dutch flavors of Jerk spice. “The broth for the Udon is a collaboration with Ramon at The Jerk Lex, he does pop-ups here in town and bottles his spices. We’ve always wanted to collaborate on something so he came in and we whipped up the broth together,” says Laurenvil.
Other menu items not to miss include the black beans reminiscent of something you’d find in the upper Antilles. “They’re mom’s recipe, half is puréed and half is whole beans to give a nice texture and then they’re seasoned up with spices like allspice and nutmeg,” says Laurenvil. The curried chickpeas are lower Antilles inspired by Indian flavors and a coconut curry sauce. And then you have the Jackfruit Tacos: a combination of griddled jackfruit seasoned with jerk rub and served atop flour tortillas topped off with housemade pineapple mango salsa. It’s a sweet and mildly spicy vegan dish that pleases all palates. “Vegetarian and pescatarian is common fare in the islands. There’s not a lot of milk and cheese and you find a lot of tropical fruits and vegetables. I started cooking without some of the meats and ended up with some delicious dishes”, comments Laurenvil. “There’s a great population of vegetarians and vegans here in Lexington and they support what we’re doing.” The final dish from the current menu that Laurenvil often enjoys himself is his take on a Cuban sandwich. “We use a brioche bun and turn it into a melt, we serve it with plantain chips and it’s good - really good,” says Laurenvil.
Whether you want to listen to some music and enjoy a laid-back meal with your friends or to indulge in a melty Cuban sandwich with plantain chips and a pineapple juice to wash it all down, Beach House will transport your taste buds to the islands. “Every time someone comes, they say they appreciate something about it—for a lot of people, it feels like home. That value keeps me inspired”.
Q&A with David Lauren
What made you fall in love with food?
My mom. It’s easy to go out and eat but when you understand the process and seeing how serious my mom was about the process when she was teaching us, you realize how much goes into it. There’s an innate science—do this don’t do this. If you want to get this taste, balance with this. When my mom showed me I really understood what goes into it. Anyone can follow a recipe but each recipe translates differently depending on who’s cooking. My mom’s passion made me care.
How do you stay inspired?
Close people around me, my girlfriend and friends. Lexington values what I am doing, they show up even though we’re a small mom and pop. They come for the experience.
Favorite thing to drink?
Tropical fruit nectars. The fruity flavors go well with Jerk - I love a good pineapple juice or nectar.
Do you have a morning ritual if so, what does it look like?
Get up and rush to the restaurant haha. Well first, I do some shopping then I come into the restaurant and look at where everything is at for the day. I cut on the appliances and lights and make sure it all warms up and after that, I do the basic prep then I start cooking.
When you’re not working are you cooking or grabbing carryout?
Carry-out. I like the taco trucks, Thai food (Jasmine Rice). Sushi (Yamaguchi, Blue Sushi, Sakura and Tachibana).
Eggplant. It’s very versatile. Boil it down and use it in a stew with cabbage, my favorite dish with it is veggie lagoon. Favorite dish from your childhood?
The fish - snapper, stewed snapper.
What do you love most about Lexington? It’s a place that is growing and a city with a lot of opportunities to build and bring something that Lexington doesn’t have already. There is a tradition here but there is also a lot of room to grow. Open minded people here support new things.
Piece of advice for someone who dreams of pursuing a career in food.
Love the process. There are days where I am over it but I love the process. The process of starting from scratch from all of these different components and figuring out how to put it all together you have to love it. The food business can be stressful so you must love it.
What’s the last thing you ate?
The pineapple mango salsa, but I’ve been eying a Cuban all day!
If you could cook for anyone who would it be and what would you make?
I’d have to say, my family. We’ve cooked in here plenty of times but me actually taking over the kitchen for a home-cooked Thanksgiving style meal. I would make them all the specials that my mom cooks haha, kidding, she’d have opinions. I’d have to break away from that and come up with my own dish so I would make a traditional Labouyi, a dish in Haiti I have never made but grew up eating, it’s awesome. It’s essentially a porridge made with green plantains for breakfast. There’s anise in the middle and it’s hearty.
Beach House Jackfruit Tacos
Mango Pineapple Salsa, Jackfruit and Corn Tortillas
To make the salsa, dice mango and pineapple. Mix together a base of apple cider vinegar, lemon, lime, salt and pepper, bell peppers, red onion, cilantro and mix it all together. Set aside.
Marinate the jackfruit in a jerk seasoning blended paste using Ramon Hargon's Jerk spice. Cook it down in oil to a dark color. Add in scotch bonnet pepper, soy sauce, red onion and bell peppers to create a paste. Thin out with water and squeeze over jackfruit and stew on a flat top grill. Place in warm corn tortillas. Top jackfruit with salsa and serve with a piece of lime.