With a nose-to-tail inspired menu, Beast (@BeastRestaurant) is a meat-lover’s paradise. Located on Tecumseth, a short walk from King and Bathurst, the space is situated in a small converted house which has a dark, cozy feel. It definitely doesn’t have that pretentious feel to it like some of the close-by King West restaurants.
The menu at Beast changes weekly, although there are some popular mainstays. The food is served tapas-style so I recommend coming with a group so you can try a bit more. We ended up over-ordering and given that they have a small kitchen, it was a pretty lengthy meal.
We came here for dinner but I thought I should mention their brunch. I’ve never been myself (yet) but I’ve only heard amazing things about it. It’s served on weekends and no reservations are taken so get here early. Chef Scott Vivian’s wife, Rachelle (pastry chef at Beast) makes incredible doughnuts brunch and they sell out fast.
Speaking of Rachelle, we started out with some of her amazing bread.
The first dish that arrived was the Pig Board – with sauce gribiche and peppercress ($14) which literally came on a pig-shaped board. The board consisted of a rillette, head cheese, pickled tongue, grilled heart and fried pig ears sitting on top of a peppercress salad.
My favourites were the grilled heart and rillette but I enjoyed each and every component of the dish and highly recommend ordering this if you’re an adventurous eater.
Up next was the Bone Marrow – with parsley, smoked paprika and grilled bread ($11). I’ve had the bone marrow at Beast before and it tasted just as good as I remembered. Their version has a nice sweetness and a crispy brûléed top which gives the marrow a bit more texture.
I’m glad the rich bone marrow was followed up with the Rainbow Trout Ceviche Tostada – with avocado, radish and cilantro ($12). It consisted of fresh, large chunks of fish with a delicious avocado crema which all sat on top of a crunchy tostada.
We ordered another fish dish, the Smoked Mackerel – with a pear & celeriac slaw and apple saba ($10). I really like mackerel because it has a nice oiliness to it. While this was a solid dish, I actually prefer my mackerel torched as it brings out the flavours a little more.
Up next was the Ling Cod – with beet root, grapefruit and black garlic ($13). The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice crispy skin. It was a well composed dish as the ling cod paired nicely with the greens and beet root. But did it excite me? Not really…
After a few seafood dishes, our “Poutine” – with fried gnocchi, braised beef and cheese curds ($10) arrived. As I mentioned earlier, Beast’s menu changes weekly but this poutine is one of their mainstays. After one bite, you’ll understand why.
I loved the gnocchi which was slightly crisp on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. These delicious carb bites were covered in gooey cheese curds and tender shredded beef. You can’t go wrong ordering this!
My favourite dish of the evening was the Pork Hocks – with kimchi and candied peanuts ($12). They tasted sweet and reminded me of honey garlic ribs (which I love!). The pork hocks had a crispy exterior and the meat was tender and moist. The housemade kimchi was such a great pairing as it helped to cut the richness of the pork. A must-order!
The Pig Tails were one of the specials of the evening. When our server was telling us about the ingredients that went into the dish, it felt like she was reciting a book…a very delicious book! To be honest, I was sold after she said “pig tails” so I didn’t catch many of the ingredients (sorry!).
I know for a fact that it contained oyster mushrooms though – one of my favourite types of mushroom. They just have such a wonderful meaty texture to them. The pig tails were crispy on the outside, moist and fatty on the inside. Flavour-wise, they were delicious but I felt they could’ve used just a touch less salt.
Our last dish was the Lamb Ribs – with sheep’s feta and chili sauce ($13) which consisted of two huge ribs. It turned out to be another one of my favourite dishes. The meat was so tender, they just fell off the bone and there was so much flavour packed into each bite. The chili sauce gave it a little kick but the coolness from the feta helped to offset the heat. Loved it!
We had four people in our party and this was more than enough food. Since most of the food (pork hock, pig tails, poutine…) was pretty heavy, we all left feeling a little sluggish so I recommend ordering a little less than we did. Needless to say, we didn’t order dessert.
Overall, I had a great meal at Beast. Having sampled a few of the seafood dishes, I feel that it’s their meat dishes that really stand out. Don’t get me wrong, their fish dishes were certainly solid but they just weren’t quite as memorable. Stick to their meat dishes and you’ll leave a happy customer!
At a glance:
• Nose-to-tail cuisine; tapas style; pork-heavy menu
• Solid seafood dishes but the meat dishes were the stand-outs
• Highlights: gnocchi poutine, pork hocks & lamb ribs
• Closed Mondays/Tuesdays; brunch on the weekends
• “Beast 120” – Wednesday to Friday between 5pm and 7pm ($5 drinks & snacks, $1 oysters)
• Cozy, casual atmosphere; small space
• Reservations taken for dinner but not for brunch
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars