5425 NE 30th Ave 503-841-6968 beastpdx.com
Put aside the hustle and bustle of Portland’s other great restaurants and settle in for a few hours of watching Naomi Pomeroy and sous-chef Mika Paredes dance. Because that, as much as the food, is what you’ll experience at this 24-seat restaurant, notably the only top-end restaurant in the city choreographed, doorway to kitchen to tabletop, by a woman. The experience is resolutely Naomi, and expresses all that is intimate about Portland and all that is sensuous about its food.
Close contenders: None. Beast is in a class by itself.
“I wanted to have a platform for total self-expression,” Pomeroy says of Beast, the latest in her long line of culinary stints, which started with a high school job as the “burrito-rolling girl” at a Mexican place. Later, she cooked for and ran the beloved private dinners known as Family Supper and helped found the high-profile eateries Gotham Tavern and Clarklewis. In 2007, Pomeroy opened Beast, earning rave national reviews and the cover of Food and Wine. Her philosophy is simple. “I just wanted to use the best product and provide people with a very curated experience.”
The set menu—soup, charcuterie plate, entrée, salad, cheese, and dessert—changes weekly. Always anchored by meat, be it duck, lamb, pork, or veal, the menu might be inspired by anything from Pomeroy’s visits to France to her mood that day. The day we visited, in mid-September, Pomeroy was in Julia Child mode, concocting a cream of watercress soup from blanched and shocked watercress that she blended, tiny batch by tiny batch, into a water-based stock deepened with crème fraîche. To that, she added a paupiette—inspired by a version she saw in a French butcher shop—spun together from a veal leg, ground pork forcemeat, and prosciutto she cured from Tails & Trotters’ hazelnut-fed pork belly.
Meanwhile, Paredes spooned quail eggs onto toast for the steak tartare portion of the evening’s charcuterie plate and made a simple salted-caramel ganache tart accompanied by ice cream whipped up with a heart-stopping 12 yolks per quart. “It’s an easy and a hard process to explain,” Pomeroy says of menu construction, “because ultimately, it comes down to whim.” —EH