A couple weeks ago Kaori asked me if I was interested taking the place of someone who had cancelled on a birthday dinner at Beast Restaurant. It was a 6 course meat to eat an entire pig. I didn’t know the birthday boy, the guests or the price of the dinner or the menu.
I had been to Beast before for brunch and had their amazing bacon donuts. There was no way I would miss out on an opportunity like this. It is a tasting menu called The Whole Beast where you choose an animal and they prepare a 6 course tasting menu of the lucky beast. They have done it before with deer, goat, lamb, duck and of course the popular pig.
Dirty rice arancini made with liver, shoulder and house ketchup. I know in general I don’t like organs but I had to make an exception and it was amazing. The problem with an amuse bouche is that they leaving you wanting more. One was not enough.
1st Course: BLT Salad with peameal bacon, arugula and semi-cured tomatoes.
Solid first course and the semi-cured tomatoes were so sweet I made a mental note to learn how to make them.
2nd course: Crispy hocks formed into cubes with house kimchi, carrot puree and brown butter.
This was a favourite for most people at the table, for me the spicy kimchi really made the dish.
3rd course: Braised tongue on a root vegetable latke with beet relish and fennel.
I had eaten lengua quite a few times in South America, my favourite was in Colombia at a bus terminal. This was one of my favourite dishes and the fennel had a citrus dressing that again made me think I need to eat more fennel.
4th course: Grilled heart atop puy lentils and salsa verde with a quail egg.
Back to the organs. I have had heart before. Beef and chicken hearts on skewers are really popular street meat in Peru. I really wanted to love this dish but the heart had a bit of a weird texture, almost gelatinous in some places. The acidity of the salsa verde was a great balance but I wasn’t in love.
5th course: Maple roasted head with deep fried gnocchi, country gravy.
Beast Restaurant knows how to put on a show. First they brought the gnocchi and when they tried to clear space on the table we knew something was up. Then chef Scott Vivian makes an appearance with this giant pig head with a sparkler coming out of its snout. It was such a sight others asked to take photos.
6th course: Pudding Chomeur with smoked belly and a bacon butterfinger
I am not a sweets person at all. I don’t care for cakes or pies, I’d rather eat a sandwich. But it’s different at Beast. I don’t like donuts but I adore Rachelle’s maple bacon donut. And I didn’t think she could top it until I had smoked pork belly with a butterfinger.
It was one of the best birthday dinners I have eaten. You need to have a group as you buy the animal so without a table it could get pricey. But for under $800 we had amazing service, they brought the birthday boy champagne, a meat tied Beast shirt and wrapped up the head to go for Louis who wanted to make soup with it.
And even before we left the restaurant I started wondering what Beast I should eat next. I really do like venison…