Venetia van Kuffeler reviews Beast
Russian-owned Goodman steak restaurants broke the mould with the launch of Burger & Lobster in 2011, and now they’ve added yet another unconventional concept to their repertoire in the form of Beast.
Set in a cavernous cellar north of Oxford Street, Beast has a minimum spend of £75 a head for the three-course set menu, without drinks. The atmosphere is one of a modern-day medieval banquet, with wax dripping down decadent candelabra on the three long tables that fill the room. All guests share a table and my husband and I were offered seats next to or opposite each other – we took the former.
The meal started with hunks of parmesan served with olive oil and 12-year-old balsamic vinegar from Modena. Deliciously simple and moreish, our excellent server had warned us to go easy; good advice. We were then handed our weapons for the evening: enormous Brazilian steak knives, seafood forks and crab crackers. Then came the main event: red king crab from Norway and steak from Nebraska.
Fresh from the northeast coast of Norway close to the Russian border, crabs are in a tank on the mainland within five or six hours of being pulled out of the sea. Huge research has gone into establishing the best conditions for the crabs to travel in (alive, never frozen): the idea is the less stress the crabs experience, the better they taste. And my goodness they tasted good. Served steamed and sweet, with lemon and butter sauces, these king crabs weigh 2.5kg each – sometimes twice that. Their meat is delicately flavorsome, and the legs of each one serve four people.
Prime Nebraskan Angus steak was served medium, having been cooked on an elaborate grill handmade in Texas. It arrived slightly pink, marbled and perfect. A jug of truffle sauce on the side added to the delicious decadence of it all. Both the steak and crab came at the same time and each arrived with various tasty sides: green salad, heritage tomatoes, cider-drenched sweet corn, beetroot and carrots. Three puddings were on offer, but the deconstructed cheesecake was a clear winner (don’t be put off by the name). This was all knocked down with an excellent bottle of Californian Pinot Noir.
Like many before us, we concluded that perhaps Beast is not a place to go for a serious occasion due to the family style tables and the fact you will be wearing a crab bib by course two. Certainly not for the fainthearted (or fussy eaters), Beast is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But we thought Beast was a riot; a place for sumptuous food and a damn good time. Go with a group – the seating arrangements make it perfect for at least four. And this month, Krug has launched a pop-up dining experience, Krug & Krustacean, in collaboration with Beast (3-7 September). What could be better
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