February 5, 2012

Dinner @ Beast

Previously, I enjoyed my brunch experience at Beast, so I was quite thrilled for an opportunity to return for dinner, especially with the dining date night discount. Beast serves tapas-style small plates to share, so between the four of us (I dragged my family and my boyfriend along), we were able to try a good number of dishes. The dinner started with some delicious bread baked in-house. The Parker House roll, in particular, was very buttery and satisfying.
The first item to arrive was the dirty rice balls ($5), which are basically arancini. The cheesy rice balls were piping hot and tasted delicious with the refreshing tomato sauce. We quickly gobbled all of it up. After the bread, this was a very good start to the meal.  
Next up, we ordered a “poutine” of fried gnocchi, boar shoulder, cheese curds and creme fraiche ($11). The poutine is a permanent fixture on Beast's menu but the toppings change on a regular basis. I tried a version with Ontario water buffalo previously for brunch and really enjoyed it. This time around, the sauce had a completely different flavour profile- it almost tasted like a tomato sauce of some sort, rather than a meaty gravy. I think I prefer the first one that I had, but nevertheless, I still loved fried gnocchi for its crispy exterior and gooey, melt-in-your-mouth texture on the inside. Overall, this was another winner for me. 
I love miniature burgers, so of course I had to order some southern sliders, featuring tasso ham and pimiento cheese on english muffin ($15). These were fabulous! The mini burger was my favourite dish of the evening. The patty was bursting with juice and it's amazing how much flavour could be packed in such a tiny burger. On top of that, using english muffin as the bun was ingenious! I love breakfast sandwiches on english muffins, and as it turned out, I love burgers on them too! I think the density of the english muffin worked particularly well on miniature burgers. On a side note, I did think that $5 per slider was a little pricey.
Not everything was splendid that evening. My least favourite dish was the ricotta dumplings with pine nuts, tomato sauce, eggplant pickle ($11). I was not a fan of the eggplant pickle, and I usually love eggplants! On the whole, the flavours just didn't work for me, and the ricotta dumplings had a strange texture that I didn't particularly enjoy.
Apologies for the blurry photo, but I was too eager to dig into this strip loin of beef, accompanied with navy beans, quail egg and pickled watermelon rind ($15). I liked that the beef was already sliced, which made it easy for sharing. The quail egg, on the other hand, was hard to split, so I just ended up eating the whole egg myself. I found the pickled watermelon rind to be the most interesting component- it was a bright and refreshing contrast to the meat and beans. 
I wanted a vegetable dish, so we ended up getting sweet potato wedges with pecans, maple vinaigrette, sultana raisins ($8). My mom and sister were put off by the liberal use of cinnamon, but I loved it! Cinnamon and sweet potato is a winning combination in my books, and I also loved the crunch from the pecans! I was more than happy to finish most of the dish.
The last thing to arrive before desserts was the duck confit with braised red cabbage and plum mostarda ($13). The duck was cooked well and the skin was nice and crispy. My sister, who is very partial to duck, liked it a lot, but I always prefer duck prepared the Chinese way. Nevertheless, I actually liked the duck better than the beef.
Of course, I would never miss out on dessert! The first one was a chocolate nut tart with coffee anglaise ($10). I loved it! The chocolate tart was rich and intense, perfect for dark chocolate lovers (like my boyfriend). I'm more of a white chocolate kind of girl, but I really loved that the deep chocolatey flavour was balanced out by the sweeter coffee cream sauce. The more bites I took, the more I liked it! In fact, I'm craving this tart right now as I write about it!
The second dessert was the sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and clotted cream ($10), another permanent fixture on Beast's menu. This was the polar opposite of the chocolate nut tart- decadently sweet and gooey, the "pudding" cake was swimming in a bowl of molten caramel. I've never met a sticky toffee pudding that I didn't like, and this one no exception. My family loved this, and my sister was literally drinking the toffee sauce after all the pudding was devoured (I did warn her that that was a bad idea...)  
We saved approximately $30 from the dining date night discount, and since I made this reservation with one of their promo codes, I didn't even have to pay the initial $10 to make my reservation! But cost aside, I really loved my meal at Beast, and I would love to go back for another meal, especially since they change their menu frequently.
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