Schatzi: In lieu of a material gift for Eli’s birthday this year, I subscribed to the notion that it is experiences–and shared ones in particular–that increase one’s happiness, so I took him to dinner at Beast. Naomi Pomeroy’s Beast was one of the Portland restaurants to which we had been longing to go, but also one for which our budget did not allow under ordinary circumstances. I made reservations for his birthday, which were a complete surprise until I ruined it the morning of at breakfast. (I hadn’t had much sleep.) He was still thrilled, and since they were in the process of redesigning their website, the menu was a complete surprise to both of us. Since he was the birthday boy, I let Eli take the seat offering a view of the kitchen space.
I apologize in advance for the poor quality of my pictures; I forgot to charge my camera beforehand, and it was on its last legs through the meal. I managed to snap one of all but two course on it, which did not allow for experiment. I caught two courses on my camera phone, to make up the difference.
Off to a lovely start! We were both appalled when the couple across from us unceremoniously scooped out their aïoli and roe without even tasting it. We thought it was a heavenly soup course, the creamy aïoli perfectly balancing the salt of the bouillabaisse. And the fishberry jam! The wine for this course was a 2008 Domaine de la Sauveuse Provence Rose.
Eli: Funny thing about the first course; I hadn’t been sure whether or not I was allergic to shellfish since I had a funny feeling in my mouth not too long ago after eating sushi. I had planned on getting a test but I proved it after I had the bouillabaisse. I was so excited I forgot about my plan to get tested until after I ate a mussel. This was a flavorful and rich soup and I loved the way they finely diced the onions and only sweated them.
Schatzi: For a little extra, diners can opt to have a wine flight with their meal, a different wine chosen for each course. I opted to try that, figuring I would enjoy the experience of having wines chosen to complement each course–and I did! Not being much of an oenophile, I don’t have a great deal to say about them, other than I enjoyed the experience. And that Eli laughed his ass off when I said that one smelt of gasoline, which is a perfectly valid observation!
Schatzi: Beast’s Charcuterie Plate was one of the deciding factors when choosing what restaurant to descend upon for Eli’s birthday.
Foie-gras bon-bon, Sauternes gelée, peanut shortbread
Steak tartare & quail egg toast
Pork, pork liver, sour cherry & pistachio pâté
Chicken liver mousse, maple candied bacon
Eli inveigled me into starting with the steak tartare, which I knew was a mistake because it was one of my favorite things. But it was a hell of a start. I dearly loved the pâté, and the creamy chicken liver mousse was a perfect foil for the candied bacon. We thought there was trifle too much salt on the bon-bon, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Accompanying the stars of the charcuterie plate were a stone-ground mustard and cornichon, salami, and house pickled vegetable, including a tiny pink radish. It was amusing to watch our fellow diners try to cut everything with their knives and forks when the portions were perfectly sized even for my tiny, toothy mouth. To drink was a 2005 Bott-Geyl Riesling Grafenreben de Zellenberg.
Eli: The Charcuterie plate was my favorite part of the meal. I was looking forward to seeing how they prepared the chicken liver mousse, but I saved tasting that for second to last. The pork pâté was also great, but the chicken liver mousse was awesome. I worked with chicken liver quite a bit at Cascippo Brothers in Seattle, and it took me a while to get the hang of its strong flavor. This mousse had no “off” flavor at all like some preparations of the ingredient; It was sweet and made me want a whole tub of it.
Schatzi: My one quibble was that I would have liked to eat the asparagus with my fingers, as is usual, but the veal demi-glace made that a messy proposition. Delicious, but untidy, since I am sure our fellow diners would not have enjoyed watching me lick my fingers clean, no matter how much I would have enjoyed doing it. There was also a new potato and green garlic mash, which I adored. I would have licked my plate clean. It was at this point that I noticed that the woman across from me was dining mainly on bread and leaving half and more of each course uneaten. The wine was a 2006 Tissot Trousseau Singulier.
Eli: The steak was awesome. It had a nice crust, was perfectly cooked, and was complimented by the demi-glace. I thought the salsa verde was unnecessary, adding nothing to the dish. I experimented with the potato and green garlic mash at home the next week.
This phone pic captures a palate-cleansing Orange and Campari sorbet. Really nice.
Schatzi: I thoroughly enjoyed my salad, the vinaigrette for which was perfectly tart (I can’t stand a sweet vinaigrette). This was also one of the courses that had me considering whether to beg for other diners’ leftovers; the couple across from us barely touched their truffled eggs on toast, which were fantastic. Instead, I just stared longingly as the plates were removed. A 2007 Domaine Cazin Cour-Cheverny accompanied the salad course.
Eli: She talked about the truffled eggs for a day or two afterwards, they were that good.
Schatzi: The selection of Steve’s Cheese included (in order): Frisian Farms Aged Gouda (cow – Iowa), La Buchette (goat – Canada), and Neal’s Yard Strathdon (cow – Scotland). Then there were the house brandy poached fruits (the apricots are magnificent), candied hazelnuts, and an anise & fleur de sel shortbread. If you opt for the five course meal, choose the cheese & fruit–it is a wonderful end. There was a 2006 Domaine du Closel la Jalousie Savennieres for this course.
Eli: I loved the poached apricots so much that I brought some apricots home to try and imitate them. The cheeses were all marvelous, but the Strathdon was by far my favorite. I love a cheese that makes me feel like I’m in a cow pasture. I know a lot of people won’t know what I mean by that so I won’t explain and I’ll leave it to us that understand to enjoy.
Schatzi: We were both eagerly anticipating the dessert, because the tartlette sounded fantastic, but it was actually a bit of a letdown. The black currant coulis on the plate overwhelmed the tartlette so that I could hardly taste anything but the pastry. The coulis was a lovely complement to the ice cream, though. The wine for this course was my favorite of the night, a Bodegas Olivares Monastrell Dolc, which was like a tart, acidic porto.
Eli: The dessert was definitely not the focus of the chef or sous chef. The coulis overpowered the chocolate and caramel in the tart but went well with the balsamic ice cream.
Schatzi: The service was consistently excellent all evening. Not only did we each have our little menus, but our servers explained each course and each wine as they came out. They were friendly and happy to answer any question we had. I also noted that they did not even wink at any diner peculiarities, quietly refilling bread for the Girl Who Would Not Eat. Boxes were available for anyone who did not finish their portions. After dinner, we stopped at the island so that Eli could convey his regards to the chefs, who were both lovely and gracious.
Elisha: This was a meal to remember. Schatzi gave me the best ever birthday gift. I was high for the rest of the night after this lovely meal, nothing was gonna bring me down after that.
5425 NE 30th Ave
Portland, Oregon 97211