Monday, July 07, 2014

Portland's BEAST is perfect for a feast (7-3-14)

Our final night in Portland was at a place we had heard raves about, and they were not exaggerated! BEAST ( is about 10-15 minutes from downtown in a quiet neighborhood with some other cool dining places nearby. The restaurant is unassuming with slab floors and two large communal tables, but Will would have none of that, so he asked if we could have our own table; the promptly seated us at a large prep table next to the open kitchen, the whole place is one giant room with total seating for about 25 folks. We had fab views of the whole prep and met Chef Alix (Alex) who with her all-female team explained a lot to us and chatted as well about all the foods and more. Owner/Chef Naomi Pomeroy who has earned accolades across the USA had the night off!
The walls have some sayings such as "unlesh the beast" and a sketch of a pig as well as quotes from the likes of Julia Child. It's not a comfy place for sure, but then every night from Wednesday thru Saturday they fit in two seatings at 6pm and 830pm at a fix price menu of $75 ($35 extra for wine pairings-half glass pours per course) so  you really don't have a ton of time to settle in. The music was soft, but digital and did not complement the food or the mood.

White Bean and Summer Vegetable Soup with Cherry Tomato Puree, Crispy Bread Crumbs, Basil Mousse, Alium Blossoms and Micro Thai Basil was an amazing start. The chilled soup was refreshing and loaded with tons of different flavors in each bite. The crispy bread and alium blossoms were crunchy for fun. The Riedel crystal held a perfectly paired Schloss Gobelsburg 2013 Rose from Kamptal, Austria(of Zweigelt & Sankt Laurent) that we begged for more of.

Next came a Charcuterie Plate that was so diverse and awesome, it was impossible to decide where to start and end:
Steak Tartare with Quail Egg on Toast
Crispy Fried Tails & Trotters(that's the purveyor) Pork Rillettes was deep fried and sat atop a sublime aioli
Chicken Liver Mousse was on a tasty Leaf Lard Cracker and could be one of the best chicken livers ever.
Smoked Salmon Rillettes was the only non-meat entry and a Smoked Pork Sausage was great with a grain mustard and cornichon.
Pickled Romescu Cauliflower and Beet were there as was a light herb salad of parsley, fennel, shaved radish and more to cleanse the palate between the various options.
We were told to save the Foie Grad BonBon on Peanut Shortbread with Sauternes Gelee for last and it was an amazing pop in the mouth for sure.
The Malat Pinot Blanc 2012 from Wachau, Austria was our least favorite wine since it had a slight effervescence.

A palate cleanser of Cucumber-Elderberry Sorbet was one of the best ever.

Rack of Cattail Creek Lamb (about 2 hours away) was cooked just past rare and came with Whipped Potatoes, Summer Chanterelles (I wanted more) and a blow-your-mind Sour Cherry Confiture with mustard seed and garlic that I want to try and re-create. Garlic-Chive Oil finished the dish as well as some Agretti, a succulent frond similar to fennel, but not with much flavor. A wonderful K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah 2012 came from just across the river in Columbia Valley, Washington.

The most inventive dish was the Fava Bean & English Pea Crème Fraiche Tartelette from pastry Chef Ellen who served this over a creamy Nigella Seed Vinaigrette with Spicy Cress(I never heard of Nigella before). Surrounding the tart were roasted and pickled onions as well as Batchelor Buttons for some blue color. Eric Chevalier Fie Gris (a clone of Sauvignon Blanc) from the Loire was a novel and perfect pairing yet again.

Cheese from Steve at Cheese Bar was awesome and came with Mesquite Grilled Apricot, Candied Hazelnuts, Local Honey and amazing Rosemary (salted) crackers that Chef Ellen gave us a small container of as we left (we told her she should sell them!). Brie du Pommier from Normandy was creamy, but we fell in love with the Neal's Yard Durrus(cow) from the UK as it was a powerful and fragrant creamy cheese.
La Gruta del Sol Tres Leches is a Spanish mix of cow/goat/sheep(hence tres leches) which is hard and akin to parmesan
Beecher's FlagSheep is a nice local mild raw cow/sheep but the winner was the creamy
Monte Enebro Spanish goat rimmed with ash.
The wine was a Hexamer Riesling Quarzit 2011 which had a slight fizz and did indeed reek of the quartz rock it is grown in.

Buckwheat Crepe came with a divine Frozen Lemon Curd, Tayberries and Tayberry Puree, Candied Orange Zest and Vanilla Bean rich intense Crème Fraiche. Boy did we adore this treat served with a Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste 2011 Sauternes which had lots of acidity and will definitely be worth coming back to in 5 or 10 years..

The only thing we did not like all night were the Passionfruit-Vanilla Macarons as they had a nit too much crunch for our palate.
We left happy and satisfied for sure and adored this special experience at Beast, for a superb feast on our last night in the city...onto the countryside...