From a passerby's perspective, The Beast may appear like a definite spot where locals would hang out. Makes sense, the restaurant is tucked in on Tecumseth, away from the bustling King St. West and not even visible from there. Ma cherie spotted this place due to its logo, which was now hidden behind a big, sprawling tree. But we did know that The Beast is a popular place well known in the city for its original dishes, passion to use local meats and trying to utilize the whole animal.
A busy patio would probably be the very first thing to capture attention. To be honest, that might be the last thing capturing your attention as well. Besides the fact that you probably would
not expect a restaurant in this residential pocket, there is nothing else interesting about it from the outside. A generic metal fence, simple furniture (wooden table tops deserve attention though), uninspiring glass doors and wall-sized windows. The inside was a bit more exciting, there were a few animal drawings on the wall and a cozier atmosphere. People definitely preferred the outside on that July evening. Overall, some theming would have helped to make the place more memorable, but we were here to eat so enough about that.
Our waiter was very prompt to mention the 5-7 "happy hour" and that we have 5 minutes to order to take advantage of their great offer. So we ended up quickly getting a glass of their white, red and two more glasses of Cava. Would have been nice to let us get wines staggered rather than all at once, but rules… We also asked for Green Onion Pancakes with Black Bean mayo which arrived fast. This appetizer was dense, not a prominent onion green onion bite and topped off with crispy caramelized onion shaves. The pancakes reminded us more of a naan bread with some burnt spots and a distinct oil smell. The black bean aioli really made quite the difference to make this plate worthwhile.
After the initial order rush, we had a bit of time to chart our next move. The menus appeared to be refreshed often, maybe even weekly. The choices were not very meat centered - we expected game meat based on their wordmark. Ma Cherie has a big fan of their wordmark - expressive type - impression on wild. Somewhat contrasting with the very tame inside environment. Our first choice was Grilled Lamb Liver with Quanciale, Red Onion, Nettle and Fregola – by the sound of it, the nightmare of people not fond of strong, heavy dishes. Second dish was Ontario Walleye Wrapped in Smoked Beef Tongue, Piquillo Fricassee and Salsa Verde on the side.
The Lamb Liver turned out to be exactly what we expected. It was a highly aromatic, opinionated dish best paired with a full bodied red. The portion is small (like all other offerings, to be fair), but the experience of digging into something out-of-the-ordinary was definitely present. We appreciated the addition of nettle and spinach, adding a deep green tone, as well as the fregola - to balance out the explosion of flavor. As far as the Walleye went, we found it slightly spicy. The thin crispy tongue wrap made sure the fish inside was tender. The bed of green salsa with red peppers accented the dish well too. Both options are worthwhile choices. We also received house made breads with butter on the house. These came on a branded carved wood board. Fluffy and soft, a great touch, but we wanted something else on top of it all. It ended up being a Poutine which took surprisingly long to make it to our table. Once again a small dish, it was of an interesting variety. Fried gnocchi replaced traditional fries. Bison ragu and cheese curds were very fresh and full of flavor. A must try for poutine lovers!
If you are in search of an original spot away from the beaten path, The Beast should be on your list. The food is very original, somewhat on a pricier side, but worth the experience.
One more quick thing - to get to their small washrooms one must pass by the kitchen - literally. A glance at where the magic happens made the whole experience feel very much down to earth.