Bob and I celebrated our 14th anniversary a few days early by dining at Beast in Portland, Oregon. I first heard of Beast when Chef Naomi Pomeroy competed on Iron Chef America (and if I remember correctly, just narrowly lost). She was recognized in Food and Wine Magazine as one of ten best new chefs in 2009. Her restaurant has also received numerous accolades. If the name of the restaurant doesn’t already make it obvious, the web site states that vegetarians would find eating there a challenge. There are no substitutions as the kitchen is small (and in view of the diners which makes for great entertainment).
Imagine being invited to a large dinner party. That’s what it’s like at Beast. Community seating (two large tables) and a set menu give the meal an air of being invited to someone’s home for dinner. Dinners are only served Wednesday through Saturday twice with seatings at 6 and 8:45 PM. The 6-course menu changes weekly. Bob and I were wowed for sure by every single course! I’m still thinking about the dishes and wishing I could revisit them all. There’s great attention to detail for flavor, freshness, and plating.
I didn’t take photos of every course, I was too focused on just relishing every bite. The first course was a carrot veloute with fried pickled ramps and parsley oil. The soup was sweet but not overly so, and the fried ramps and parsley oil were fabulous accompaniments. I wanted to be able to drink an entire bowl of this fabulous soup!
The main course featured duck breast with cherry-pinot noir duck jus and new potato salad with summer herbs and bacon. Probably some of the best duck breast I’ve ever had – perfectly seared with a crisp skin on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Not at all chewy. The potato salad was slightly tart and delicious. I overheard the young man to my left say to his date, “I don’t like potato salad, but I really like this!”
Course four was a salad of mixed greens, albacore tuna toasts, with Sungold tomato vinaigrette. To me, the proof of the genius of Chef Pomeroy was in the salad. I mean, it’s salad! Green stuff with dressing. But….this was the most amazing salad I’ve had in my life! It was fresh and not overdressed. I could taste every element of the salad including leaves of chiso (I don’t know the American word for this crisp sour leaf often used in Japanese cooking for wrapping sushi and pickling umeboshi). In fact, since returning home, Bob and I have started adding chiso (from our garden) to our salads. Love it!
The fifth course was a cheese plate with Angelino plums, candied hazelnuts, anise shortbread, and wild flower honey. I can’t recall the names of the cheeses, but they were all spectacular (I happen to love love love cheese)!
Oh! I’m drooling right now just looking at this picture of our final course – dessert! It was a chilled vanilla créme with apricot granite, and thyme tuille. As with all the other dishes, every element was perfect – delicious, flavorful, and working in perfect harmony with one another. I will reveal here that I have a bit of a strange allergy to dairy. I can eat cheeses, sour cream and butter (in small quantities) without any adverse affects. I can eat foods with dairy cooked into them in small amounts. However, I am unable to eat ice cream, cream cheese, or drink milk. Sigh. So when I saw this amazing dessert, I nearly wept knowing I couldn’t do more than take a little taste. Um…except after a nibble, I couldn’t stop eating it. The texture was that of thick custard, and the vanilla flavor fresh and sweet. I ate almost all of it and then worried about the negative after effects — which, miraculously, never happened! I’m deeming Chef Pomeroy a magician!
While we were feasting on our last couple of courses, the kitchen staff started preparing for the second seating. They worked like a well-oiled machine despite being on the quiet side. It was fun watching the action, but the best part was definitely eating the outstanding meal! Bravo Beast!
5425 NE 30th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97211
Reservations are a must!