Beast – Finer Dining in Portland
After a long Thanksgiving week with the extended family I needed a bit of a break. My final night in Portland for the Thanksgiving holiday, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with a friend – which allowed us lots of time to tell Thanksgiving tales of crazy. It was quite cathartic.
My friend offered three suggestions for our Sunday dinner, of which I selected Beast. Beast is often billed as a “Meat-centric” or a “Meat-Heavy” restaurant in Portland’s trendy Alberta Arts District. I was excited to try this restaurant, but sure didn’t want five courses of meat, luckily the menu was much more balanced.
When I told locals (bar tender, Uber driver, hotel concierge) I was going to Beast, every single person asked when I made the reservation, then they were totally shocked when I said I booked it on Friday morning (for a Sunday meal). Evidently, reservations are very hard to come by. I’m assuming that the Sunday after Thanksgiving wouldn’t be a busy day considering all the gluttony that had taken place over the past four days. On Sundays there is one seating – 19h00, while Wednesday through Saturday offers two seatings 18h00 and 20h45. Beast is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Two communal dining tables offer seating for guests. There was seating for about 20 people, but during our meal, we only had about 10 other people dining with us. The fixed price six-course menu was $125 per person, plus $50 per person optional wine pairings – which of course we did add on the wine pairings.
We had a nice view of the kitchen and staging area, but honestly, we didn’t pay much attention to what was going on in the kitchen, we spent most of our time catching up.
The food was coursed out evenly and with little fanfare. Each course was delivered, along with the appropriate wine pairing, and the server provided a high level description of both the food and the wine. The descriptions were pretty bare bones, but again, our focus on this dinner was a good meal and to catch up with an old friend – we weren’t looking for the full details and all the nitty gritty of the meal.
The meal progressed at a leisurely pace, but never once did we feel rushed nor did we stop to ask ourselves what was taking so long. It was really perfectly paced. The single items that I liked the least, was the espresso ice cream and that is only because I really don’t like the flavor of espresso or coffee. Everything else was really wonderful. The duck ragu was my favorite course followed closely by the beef tenderloin.
Another interesting part about Beast – gratuity is already included in the price. I’m not sure how I feel about that. In Europe, it is common not to tip. We were taken aback when there wasn’t a tip option on the receipt either, and after a quick Google Search we found that tip was included (when my friend saw the receipt she had a vague recollection that gratuity was included). Once the checks were delivered, the staff was redirected into cleaning up and closing shop – so we couldn’t really snag anyone to confirm the gratuity situation.
Portland is a tough city for me. I don’t spend much time there and when I do, I have many obligations, including friends, co-workers and family. There are so many great restaurants in Portland there are too few meals in the day to eat at every I want to try. That being said, I would definitely return to Beast.
Have you eaten here? Did you think it was a meat-centric menu? What other recommendations do you have for Portland dining?