I’m a carnivore. My sharp canines love to dig into a meaty dish (one a little sharper than the other after I chipped it eating a slice of pizza on a flight to Australia), so it’s not hard to guess why Beast has been on my to-eat list for awhile. Owned by Chef Scott Vivian and his baker extraordinaire wife Rochelle, this charmingly carnivorous restaurant off King West opened in 2010, and serves up some of the most drool-inducing, meat-centric small plates in the city. Last Saturday night, Adam and I got ready for our favourite kind of date night: a meat feast.
The nondescript building looks like a house from the outside, with simple signage above the Tecumseth Street door. We walked in to the heat and good smells of an open kitchen (you have to walk through it to get to the washroom) hitting our cold faces. The decor is a consolidation of someone’s dining room and an intimate bistro, with dark wood furnishings and eclectic artwork. The room’s a little bright for my liking (we all know I love low mood lighting), but comfortable and inviting nonetheless.
A fragrant fume blanc from Kew Vineyards in Beamsville ($10) came quickly to the table. The first Canadian fume blanc I’ve sampled, it was better than I thought it would be; a good amount of acidity and freshness. Adam went with an Amsterdam Big Wheel ($5).
The server told us the typical methodology was to order two or three plates per person —against our grumbling bellies’ judgement we ordered four plates (it was totally enough in the end). Parker House rolls came out first with delicious churned butter that were gobbled down in seconds.
The first plate was trout carpaccio ($14). Served with beet root, juniper and pickled huckleberries, the fresh earthy taste of trout tasted like pond water in the most complimentary way, and the crispy fennel chips added a perfect amount of bite.
The sheep’s milk gnudi and brussel sprouts ($11) with dates gave an unanticipated sweetness that was balanced by sage and the nuttiness of walnuts.
The scallops ($18) were served on a considerate brush of celeriac puree and were cooked to the taste of two discerning East Coasters. The crispy kale topping the dish added texture and the quince-bacon chutney and maple flavours added a sweet balance.
‘Poutine’ ($18) with fried gnocchi, boar, duck, cheese curds, corn was the final dish. There’s never enough cheese on anything for me, and despite in the speed in which the food came out, the cheese curds had melted completely and I really missed the squeakiness (and volume) of the curds, but the flavour of the confit was delectable.
The sticky toffee pudding ($10) came out floating in a deep bowl of rich toffee sauce topped with crème fraîche. Sweet, decadent and consumed instantaneously.
Beast was a lovely experience, but it all went by too quickly. While I admire the promptness of the kitchen, we were in and out of our date night within an hour and didn’t really know what to do about it. I like to make a night of dining, spending a few hours with wine and grazing over small plates. The dishes flew out of the kitchen and our meaty date night was too quick and not as dirty as I wanted it to be.
96 Tecumseth Street | Toronto, ON | (647) 352-6000 | thebeastrestaurant.com
P.S. This place is also amazing for brunch, check out the amazing menu here, and don’t forget to sample some of Rochelle’s donuts, if you can get your paws on some.