Updated: May 21, 2015
Review: Beast Restaurant in PortlandMy wife and I belong to a supper club and every few months we go out as a group to a nice restaurant somewhere in Portland. In the past we had tried places like Navarre (Spanish Tapas) and Simpatica Dining Hall. All of us agreed to try the newest restaurant run by Naomi Pomeroy called Beast. She is a fabulous chef who has run several successful restaurants in the Portland area. Beast is not your normal night out to eat. First, the menu is prix fixe which means no choices and no substitutions. You eat what they put in front of you and hopefully like it. Although some say this place is overpriced, I strongly disagree. Having dined in some of the most expensive restaurants in Paris (Guy Savoy and Taillevent) that offer 5 and 6 course meals, I had something to compare it to. Those restaurants in Paris are going to cost you $500 or more for 2 while we walked out of Beast for about $165/couple. The food was excellent and the service was impeccable. Our waiter answered all our questions about the food and wine. If you love food then Beast should be a nice change from the traditional restaurants that serve steaks, seafood, and pasta.
What makes Beast unique is the variety of foods and textures you get on your plate(s). The menu changes weekly so there's always something new and innovative to try. I would definitely say you should be an adventurous eater to try a place like Beast since much of the food is unlike anything you have probably ever seen or tasted. Our menu included items like foie gras bon-bon with sauternes gelee, cream of savoy cabbage soup, steak tartare and quail egg toast, and chicken liver mousse with a mapled candied bacon on top. Sound good? I found almost everything to be edible, although a few of our fellow diners didn't eat the quail egg and someone mentioned that the chicken liver mousse was a bit too much. The first 4 courses are followed by a cheese course and then dessert. You can choose to do just 5 courses if you wish or go with the complete 6 courses. If you do go with 5 courses, then you will have to choose between the cheese or dessert. Keep in mind that most of the courses are not that large so getting through all 6 is not as hard as you may think. The restaurant itself is open and seats maybe 30 at their communal tables. Yes, the chairs are a bit uncomfortable (from Clark Lewis restaurant) as many reviewers have noted, but the food will occupy your mind. You see all the food being prepped right in front of you which is nice. There is ample time in between courses so you shouldn't feel rushed to finish any part of the meal. I did find that drinking the wine with each course was harder to accomplish, so I ended up with about 4 glasses that were 1/4 full at the end of the night. Overall, the eating experience at Beast was fun, flavorful, and worth the money. We all agreed that this is the type of restaurant you should at least try once. If you do arrive a bit early, the bar next door to Beast, called Yakuza, is a happening spot with good drinks. UPDATE February 2011 - Just went back to Beast for the 2nd time and the food is still amazing. This time the restaurant was offering a "Recession Session" which is a 3 course meal at $30/each. They do it one Sunday a month and have two seatings - 6 PM & 8 PM. We went with the 8 PM time and the place was full. We had celery soup, a beautiful salad with roasted almonds, and braised goat with potatoe gnocchi and greens. I had never had goat anywhere and it was excellent - the sauce made the dish. They even threw in a small macaroon for dessert as an added bonus. Naomi is still serving up memorable meals and she had recently been a part of the Iron Chef series on the cooking channel. We were able to talk with her sous chef (Mika Paredes) about the experience (cooking in front of the cameras). Great time and wonderful atmosphere once again. Still one of my favorites in all of Portland.