96 Tecumseth Street
brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $57
I’m breaking our ethical policy here. We normally prefer not to “review” places where we know the chef or owners. Just so that if it’s a bad review, nobody is hurt when their pal Sheryl disses their grub. And so that if it’s a good review, we can’t be accused of writing something positive only because we know the chef. But we really wanted to review Beast because Chef Scott Vivian is doing really unique brunch stuff, and in a land of never ending eggs Benedict, unique stuff deserves to be covered. And while I’m not going to be able to use the ideal situation of “anonymous and impartial reviewer”, know that I’m going to be as fair as I can in my assessment.
Like much of the regular menu, brunch at Beast is heavy on the meat. Burgers ($12 – $14) and the signature pig’s head pasta ($12) top the card before the traditional Sunday morning fare appears. Vegetarians have the option of French toast ($10) or yogurt and granola ($6), but if you’re not up for some form of beast, then Beast likely won’t appeal.
We start with a pot of coffee from Beast’s coffee menu, a French press with the kitchen timer attached so we know when to press the plunger and pour. I love this idea in theory, but am boggled by the number of other guests who sit by blankly and stare at the pots when the timer goes off. Hey, the little button that says “ON/OFF”? Press it!
While Beast’s dinner service starts with complimentary rolls from pastry chef Rachelle Vivian, we’re surprised that there is nothing similar at brunch. Little bit of something sweet to keep us from gnawing our own arms, please? In reality though, while we’re hungry waiting for our food to arrive, Beast’s portion are pretty big, so extra stuff isn’t really needed.
I opt for the hash ($12). It’s full of duck confit the day we dine there, but Vivian changes it up (it’s smoked rainbow trout as of this writing). Cubes of potato, chunks of sweet duck meat, and bright green beans cut on the cross-section so they almost look like green onions all blend together underneath a fried duck egg. Duck eggs are my new favourite thing, so I’m a happy girl, and it melds into a warm and comforting mess. It’s a rich dish though, and when I reheat the second half of it for dinner later, it’s a touch greasier than I’d like.
Across the table, the hungry husband can never resist anything southern, so the southern breakfast ($12) makes him happy. A huge fluffy biscuit with sausage gravy and tasso ham is accompanied by kale done in the style of southern collard greens (that is, full of flavour and pot likker from a long slow simmer) with a good balance of tang and salt. This also comes topped with a fried duck egg, although it’s slightly overcooked, so the oozy runny yolk is not to be.
And because we’re gluttons and want to try as much as we can, we also order a side of tater tots ($4) that are utterly addictive little balls of fluffy, light crunchy potato.
There’s but one dessert at brunch, a Kouign Amann ($8). This Breton pastry is layers of bread dough with layers of sugar in between, and is like a cross between a croissant and a brioche. It comes in a big wedge with a large knife to cut it in pieces, and is perfect for sharing. With a chocolate dipping sauce and some fresh (local, seasonal) fruit, it’s pretty darned awesome.
Okay, so it was hard not to say nice things about Beast’s brunch, because overall, it’s a winner. We like that things change up regularly, and as much as we might leave clutching our bellies and moaning from our own gluttony, you definitely get your money’s worth.
And yeah, it’s hard to do this job and not eventually get to know people in the industry. But know that I say nice things about Scott and Rachelle Vivian’s restaurant not because I know them, but because they make really kick ass food that is worthy of praise.