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Slowing Down to Enjoy the View {La Bête}

April 23, 2011

I had high hopes for La Bête. The strange part is, I can’t remember why. I don’t remember if I read about them in a magazine, online or heard about it from someone. I do know they  hadn’t been on my list for long. The few weeks, B and I have been pretty lazy about trying new places. It doesn’t mean we haven’t been going out. We’ve just been tending toward old reliable choices instead of sticking to our new restaurant a week. We decided early this week that we definitely wanted to get back on track with our list. I did a little rearranging, scoped out some new choices and finally pulled La Bête a few weeks up from where it was on the list to this past Thursday.

This week for me was… challenging… from a work perspective. I have a number of competing top priority items to deal with and in those situations, it’s usually my personal life that gets neglected. By the time we got to Thursday, I was totally exhausted, burned out and really in need of some downtime.

We made a reservation, but even though we parked pretty far away (our GPS thought we were closer than we were), we ended up being almost an hour early. We underestimated our departure time and overestimated traffic. Not a bad problem to have, but I really don’t like being that early for a reservation. It just feels really rude. When we got inside, though, I instantly felt better. At first sight, it reminded me a little of a larger version of How to Cook a Wolf. The first thing you see is the open kitchen. One point for La Bête in my book. The interior itself looks nothing like How to Cook a Wolf, though. They have seating at a bar right along the edge of the kitchen, but farther inside have the bar with more seating in addition to the dining room. We were greeted warmly as soon as we arrived. When I explained how early we were, I asked if we could cancel our reservation and just sit at the bar. We were told we were welcome to do that, but our table was ready as well. I was a little indecisive since the open kitchen was so inviting, but their dining room looked really comfortable and warm as well. Ultimately, the draw of the open kitchen was just too much and I chose to sit there.

This view makes me terrible dinner company. B knows this already, though. Without meaning to, I just become absorbed into the action. It was especially bad here, though, where we literally sat a couple feet from the action.

I’m starting to sense a trend in my own dining experiences lately. Everything just seems so slow to me. Maybe sometimes it has been, but I’m a big believer that if you find the same problem everywhere you go, maybe it’s you. In this case, I think it’s more me than anything. Life just gets so hectic and fast and it’s often filled with weeks like this one. It’s easy to get wrapped up into that pace and get in a rush to just check the next activity off the list and move on. We do ourselves such a disservice by living this way. Of course, there isn’t alway much we can affect in our work environments, but we certainly have control over the rest. So, I won’t say dinner at La Bête was slow. I’ll say we enjoyed a long dinner. Honestly, that’s the truth. Especially sitting where we were, we could see the whole operation of the restaurant. We were never ignored, but were allowed all the time we wanted to watch “the show” (as our host termed it when we arrived) and enjoy our food.

The biggest drawback to our seats? With every dish we watched them prepare, we both questioned our own orders. Never mind the fact that I took forever to decide in the first place. Everything we watched leave the kitchen for another table looked amazing. I especially regretted not ordering the Spring Garlic soup with Salted Cod Hush Puppies and Red Pepper Aioli. I’m pretty sure it’s worth a return visit soon just for that soup.

They also have an interesting and unique cocktail list. I don’t know that about La Bête made me so indecisive, but I had an even harder time choosing a cocktail than I had choosing a seat, but not as much trouble as I had choosing an entree. Too many good choices maybe? Just a long week? I’m going to venture a guess it was a little of both. In the end, B chose a Game to drink (bourbon, Grand Marnier, Luxardo, Rachel’s Ginger Beer) and I had a Bellevue (rye, sloe gin, lemon, honey, absinthe, rosemary). Both delicious. I really wanted to Ohhhh SNAP! just because… Well, just because of it’s name, but I can’t stand tequila no matter how high quality or expensive it is.

Game

The Bellevue

As for what we did order, despite the multiple moments of questioning and regret while watching others’ food leave the kitchen, we weren’t one bit disappointed in our choices. We started with the wings with Thai Peanut Sauce. They also had Salt and Pepper Wings. There was a little debate over which to choose here too. Really, I don’t know what our issue was. Normally, we’re pretty quick and decisive. For dinner, I went with the House Made Merguez Sausage (with Stewed Vegetable Ratatouille, Baked Eggs, Harissa Oil and Grilled Bread) while B opted for the Beef Striploin. On the online menu they have the Striploin coming with Potato Purée, Broccolini and Black Trumpets. B’s steak had the Black Trumpets, but his potatoes came with kale instead. Fine by me. I got the kale all to myself.

Chicken Wings with Thai Peanut Sauce

House Made Merguez Sausage

Beef Striploin

Potatoes and Kale

All outstanding choices. The wings were really, really good… and that’s saying something from one person who’s not a huge fan of peanut sauce (me) and one person who’s not a huge fan of chicken wings (B). As our server explained my Merguez Sausage, it was sort of a play on breakfast for dinner with the two eggs on top of Ratatouille with the sausage on top of the eggs. Breakfast for dinner was a resounding success. Ratatouille is one of those dishes I always think I like (blame Pixar) and usually don’t remember that I dislike until it arrives at the table. This Ratatouille was wonderful, though. B’s steak (which I traded a bite of sausage for a bite of) was amazing. Despite all the amazing choices on the menu, I would be hard pressed not to order it next time. Well, that or the Rabbit Ragout. Though I have a bit of a weird issue with the idea of eating rabbit, we watched the preparation of this dish and it looked absolutely unbelievable.

And then there was dessert. Unfortunately their desserts don’t appear on their online menu, so I can’t give you the exact name, but it was a chocolate caramel tart with a carmelized banana, Marcona almonds, sea salt and dried cherries. There were a number of items on that list B doesn’t really enjoy, but it really was irresistable. We each also had a small glass of Port.

Dinner took a little longer than expected, but I still maintain this wasn’t a bad thing. I’ve promised myself to do a better job taking advantage of the moments without external pressures and circumstances. Go to La Bête. You might find us there, sitting at the bar looking into the kitchen. I can’t promise to be good conversation, though. Afterall, I wouldn’t want to miss “the show.”

La Bête on Urbanspoon

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