BEAST

THE FOOD Plenty of restaurants in town offer chef’s tasting menus or special multicourse feasts in addition to their à la carte menus, but at Beast no matter who you are, or who’s sitting next to you, you’ll feast on the same things. Thankfully, there’s rarely a reason to crave anything but whatever chef Naomi Pomeroy puts in front of you. For $52 apiece, you and your friends can have a six-course, prix fixe feast ($45 gets you five courses) that almost always begins with a demitasse of silky soup, be it a truffled cream of cauliflower and celery root purée or a fresh shell-bean-and-tomato number. After this palate tickler comes an impressive spread of charcuterie (see “Flavor Profile” below), followed by the main course. One week it might consist of a saddle of rabbit stuffed with figs and served with braised cabbage; another time you might dine on a lamb loin chop pan-seared to perfection and paired with tomato-and-plum chutney. And after that? A perfectly dressed salad spiked with accents like fresh figs or smoky pork belly. Pomeroy believes that it will help prime your stomach for what’s next: a plate of artisanal cheeses, followed by, say, a chocolate soufflé with lemon-verbena whipped cream. It may take two hours or more to eat this meal. So relax. Settle in. Enjoy.

THE CHEF Self-taught cook Naomi Pomeroy made a name for herself with her ex-husband, Michael Hebberoy, when, between 2001 and 2006, they rolled out Ripe, the restaurant empire that included Gotham Building Tavern, Family Supper, and Clarklewis. But their nationally lauded entourage imploded two years ago thanks to the couple’s financial mismanagement. Now that the dust has settled, Pomeroy has returned to the kitchen. Though she’s keeping things much smaller this time around, the flavors on her French-inspired prix fixe menu are far from simple. In fact, she shows tremendous aptitude for balancing delicate flavors with bold presentation. It’s an honor to watch Pomeroy sustain not only her obvious love of food but also her knack for gathering people to eat it.

THE ATMOSPHERE Quite possibly the tiniest restaurant you’ll ever visit, with just 24 seats at two communal tables, Beast feels, above all, personal. Not only were the golden curtains made by Pomeroy’s mother, but the black wall at the back is covered with Pomeroy’s culinary musings. From your seat, you’ll get to see just about everything the folks in the kitchen do, from plating to chopping to firing up the small oven. And sitting elbow to elbow with strangers means you can count on getting to know your neighbors well. Really well.

THE SERVICE Only one or two servers work the floor at any time, but just as the cooks in the kitchen seem almost Zen-like, so does the person filling your water glass. Since everyone’s eating the same thing, the waiters are there primarily to walk you through the ingredients on your plate, or to answer any questions. Other than that, they blend seamlessly into the background, no small thing considering the size of the restaurant.