Beast – Portland, OR
My Sunday mornings usually include at least one of the following:
2. Farmers Market
And while I really should be doing more of #1 and less of #3, sometimes Sunday morning brunch is so wonderful I actually pat myself on the back for choosing a good meal in lieu of church. Brunch at Beast this past Sunday was one of those meals.
Run by Nancy Pomeroy, one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chef’s of 2009, Beast is an intimate restaurant with only two seatings a day. Upon entering, my sister and I were pleasantly surprised at the size and set up of the restaurant. I’d say it was about 600 square feet, with diners sitting on two large communal tables taking up about two-thirds of the room with the remaining space dominated by an open-kitchen.
The room was decorated with a clear feminine touch: minimal decor with classic lines, gorgeous espresso-colored walls with pale pink accents, and my favorite: a wall covered in quotes, recipes, and lists of what I assume were the staff’s favorite Portland restaurants. Quotes I spotted included:
“Praise The Lard!”
Clearly up my alley!
Brunch began with a cranberry clafoutis topped with vanilla whipped cream, and a gorgeous shard of maple glazed bacon. A traditional rustic French dessert, the clafoutis reminded me of a souffle with a texture somewhere in between cake, pancake, and custard studded with cranberries. It was fluffy and crsip around the edges but custardy in the middle. The imposing bacon shard? Paper-thin, easily broken with spoon, and bursting with umami. Combined with the vanilla whipped cream, this was easily the best dish of the morning.
This dish got me thinking: why settle for French crepes for breakfast when you can have a delicious salty-sweet bacon-cranberry-vanilla clafoutis?
A few moments later, our main entree arrived: a perfectly poached farm egg on top of a bed of braised pork shoulder, potatoes, leeks, turnips, brussel sprouts, and chanterelles mushrooms with some hollandaise sauce and a drizzle of aged balsamic.
It’s no secret that I LOVE eggs. Bursting an egg and watching the yolk run all over the place is one of life’s simple foodie pleasures– definitely up there with cracking the shell of a creme brulee.
The cubes of pork shoulder were tender with teeny savory bits of crispy pork fat hugging the edges. I loved that the vegetables were all individually cooked– showcasing each ingredient’s unique texture. A stark contrast from most hashes where everything is too finely chopped, cooked together, and ends up tasting like mush. Finally, the hollandaise sauce was some of the best I’ve ever had– very light and airy, almost like a heavy foam.
Next, a selection of cheese was served with a salad of mixed greens with a tart dressing alongside a lone armagnac-smoked prune, and Fleur de Sel shortbread cookies.
Cheeses from left to right: goat from Oregon, sheep from California, and another goat cheese from France.
The local goat cheese was savory while the sheep was mild and nutty. The variety of textures and flavors in the greens was impressive, and I stole some of my sister’s after finishing my portion hehe. It was a perfect acidic contrast to the pungent French goat cheese.
I fully support having dessert for brunch because it always feels like I have the rest of the day to walk the calories off…..even though I usually just go home and nap haha. Dessert at Beast was a slab of chocolate truffle cake with cardamom ice cream.
The one dud of the meal. Although the chocolate used was excellent, the cake itself was far too heavy. Texturally, this felt like eating thick sludge. The cardamom ice cream was slightly grainy, but again the flavors were spot-on. As my sister remarked at the end of the meal, “an almost perfect brunch”.
5425 Northeast 30th Avenue
Portland, OR 97211