About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Beast

Metro: Republique, Arts et Metier, Temple
Open: Tuesday-Saturdays for dinner
Telephone: 07 81 02 99 77

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

4 - Star......................................................€ ................................................... 3 - Bell


We were actually at the restaurant a week ago looking for lunch, but found out that they're not open yet for lunch. But our time was not wasted, we had an opportunity to meet owner Thomas Abramowicz, a native Parisian. He's a very amicable, approachable guy with impeccable English.  As we were speaking, we couldn't concentrate because the smells emanating out of the smoker were intoxicatingly good. Thomas spent several years in the US to learn from the BBQ masters throughout the BBQ capitals.  Upon his return to Paris, he wanted to share his new found knowledge and skills by opening an American BBQ "joint", but one of the biggest challenges was the smoker, so he had it built in Texas and shipped to Paris. It's a monstrous machine, hence, the name the "BEAST".  The restaurant has only been open for a few weeks.

The "BEASTS"

The Beast does not accept reservations, except one table reserved for a minimum of 6.  Last night we were actually 8, but we squeezed in. We had a very diverse group from the US: three of us came from California (San Diego/San Francisco), two from Boston, one from Cincinnati, one from the deep south of Birmingham Alabama, and lastly our token Frenchy (ha, ha). We're all familiar with BBQ as it relates to our own hometowns, but also all of us have traveled to the south and have tasted a variety of BBQs. Like the BBQ that is offered in the US, we are quite diverse in our our BBQ preferences. Some like dry-rub, others like me like it wet and so on.

"Ordering"

The inside was very simply decorated with long picnic-like tables that are shared. Although not a large restaurant it was quite ample and in a great location near République.

Interior


So, before I delve into my review, let me describe some of the challenges Thomas had to overcome. First was the smoker, then came the meats. Beef in France, in particular, is very different than that in the US; they are grass fed and very lean (and not shot up with hormones and antibiotics), so not the kind of meat you want to smoke for 8 hours or more, because it'll become jerky.  What's ideal for BBQ is nicely marbled meat. I recently read an article with the headline that read,


"French celebrity chef expelled from country's butchers' federation for saying British beef makes the best steaks" 

Yves-Marie le bourdonnec

That famous butcher is Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec. He was right on. Unfortunately, criticizing anything French in the food world can be damaging to one's standing in the "food community."  But what Monsieur Le Bourdonnec sited did in fact hit close to home for Thomas.  It was a huge challenge to find the right meats. So, Thomas was able to solve this problem by sourcing them from different places (all natural/organic):

Origins of meat

Lastly, another challenge is to accommodate the French palate. As a general rule the French don't like overly spiced foods hence no hot links, nor do they like heavy sides, e.g., macaroni and cheese, and like most Europeans many do not like corn because it's basically animal food, hence no corn bread. But Thomas did provide thick baguettes.

Whew, with all these challenges I'm surprised Thomas wanted to venture into the food world.

With that said, the star attractions are the meats, slow cooked/smoked in a wood burning monster of a machine that must be stoked constantly.

Onto the food. You get a menu, but there's also a chalk board menu on the wall. With the exception of the drinks, it's self-service. You go to the counter and you order exactly what you want, including the sides, simple enough. The food is served on what looks to be a rimmed baking sheet and you're also offered up sliced pickles and onions.

We all ordered different meats, beef ribs, brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork, but none of us ordered the chicken, interestingly enough. We all raved about the meats. And, the pulled pork was one of the highlights. They were so tender and juicy, and the best part was the smoky flavors came out to give it that distinct American BBQ flavor. The meat was so tender it literally was falling off the bone. Thomas cooks his meats in the "dry" method, meaning not basting it with BBQ sauce during the cooking process. The only discernible difference for us was the quantity. Americans like slabs of meat, whereas the French like smaller/modest portions. As far as the meats were concerned, we all unanimously gave it a 4 out of 5 rating.

The BBQs


Now the sides were a different story. Like the diversity of BBQ, we all had differences of opinions, and keep in mind Thomas has to think about French sensibilities and their palates:

1.  BBQ sauce. I happen to like bbq sauce on my meat, so I ordered some at the counter. I got a little dab on my pan, what I tasted was a very vinegary catsup, which I didn't like. So, I went back and asked for the more spicy sauce, which they accommodated me with, this I liked more, but could've been spicier and a tad sweeter. Personally, I would have liked to have the sauces on the tables, and maybe provide 2-different kinds, one spicy and one not spicy so one can help themselves.

2.  Cole slaw. I liked the cole slaw, it was tangy and sweet. The vinegar is great for BBQ to cut down on the fat. Only minor complaint was that it was under seasoned. Others wanted a more creamy cole slaw, so this is more a personal choice.

3.  Baked beans. With the exception of 1 person, all of us loved the beans, it had a hint of spiciness.

4.  Baked potatoes. They were sliced in half and what appeared to be an attempt to be a baked potatoes with sour cream. It was a bit underwhelming.

5.  Steamed vegetables. None of us ordered it but I asked if I could see it. They were pretty gray and seemed overcooked. I would've provided something very traditional like "greens", slowed cooked with bacon, which is not only more traditional, but there's no such thing as overcooking it and it's more appealing to the eye.

Admittedly, the sides were put on the "back-burner" to excuse the pun, since this, after all, is a meat eating country.


Desserts:

1.  Key lime pie.  Although this dessert was very good, it really wasn't a key lime pie, more like a lemon/lime tart. But in Thomas' defense, the only real key-lime pie is found in the southern states.

2.  Pecan pie. Although tasty, the crust was incredibly thick and dense and difficult to slice into. It seemed as if the crust was the featured attraction. I would use a lighter crust and more filling.

Note: These desserts were more reminiscent of French desserts where the fillings are thin.

3. 'Coco' pie.  This was a hit, it was a simple dish, but we all liked the flavors. The coconut flavors came out although several said it needed more coconut. 

Desserts


Summary:  

The meats are the star attraction. And, Thomas delivered. The meats were perfectly smoked, moist and succulent and overall delicious. As Americans, we would've wanted more BBQ sauce readily available. The simple solution is to have them on the table, it'd also be one less thing the person at the counter has to dish out.

The Beast has only been open for a few weeks. We give high marks on the meats, the featured attraction. As for the sides, it's perfect for the French palate. As in most American restaurants that are popping up in Paris, you have to make special request for certain items, in my case spicier BBQ sauce. For example, when we went to a Mexican restaurant last week, we asked for corn tortillas, since they don't normally serve corn tortillas to their customers because it's not a flavor the French enjoy.

Some of you may be asking, why are you going to a BBQ restaurant in Paris? For many ex-pats it's a taste of home. And, for the French it's a nice change. We're so happy Thomas opened this. It's a first of it's kind in Paris.  And, did I mention he has quite the collection of bourbon. I can't wait until he opens it for lunch.

Extensive Bourbon Collection


It's already become extremely popular. By 8 pm there were lines forming. Considering the newness and the many challenges, CHAPEAU Thomas.

For 8-people, with some alcohol, our bill came to 21€ a piece. A great deal. Would I come back, ABSOLUTELY.








2 comments :

  1. As the official Southern taste tester, I'm still remembering how tasty and moist the baby back ribs were!

    ReplyDelete
  2. An idea whose time has come - Paris Pulled Pork! Now, if we can just get the Pope to visit Alabama for some good BBQ when he visits the USA.
    - Avery Sloan

    ReplyDelete