Excellent Dinner at Beasts & Bottles (Brooklyn, NY)
Beasts & Bottles is a newcomer to Brooklyn Heights. This place is equal parts wine bar and rotisserie restaurant, this Brooklyn Heights comes from the team behind Atrium Dumbo, the Provence, France–bred duo of Leslie Affre and Laurent Kalkotour along with master sommelier Alexander LaPratt. The wine list spotlights smaller French producers and biodynamic (or environmentally responsible) wines.
For the restaurant’s focus, Kalkotour fires up three breeds of rotisserie chicken: Crystal Valley birds from Indiana, served Provençal style; Sasso chickens from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, slow-roasted and sauced with black truffle jus; and a Goffle Road Poultry Farm bird from New Jersey, finished with chili-infused hoisin, roasted peanuts and cilantro.
We started off our dinner with a wonderfully dry, toasty and nutty Crémant d’Alsace from Domaine Leon Boesch ($16) and a smooth, not bitter Farmhouse Sour cocktail ($13) made of Tarquinet VS Armagnac, bergamot, egg white, and finished with Angostura bitters. Both beverages were great with the housemade charcuterie rabbit terrine ($13), potted ratatoullie ($9), duck and foie gras pâté ($14) and salmon rillette ($12). It’s not unexpected for the kitchen to have very good housemade charcuterie since Chef Kalkotour worked at Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud previously, the fine-casual restaurant that focuses on charcuterie and wine.
Moving to the small plates/appetizers, the grilled jumbo prawns ($16) were sweet and delectable. The dots of mussels and cockles with the mixture of vegetables and intense lobster broth intensified the prawns wonderful flavors. The octopus and pork belly ($17) was a creative take on surf and turf. What really made it interesting was the thin slices of lightly crisp mildly spicy chorizo to emphasize the porkiness of the dish and the spicing made it lip-smacking good.
As I’ve stated earlier, one of the main focal points of this restaurant is the rotisserie and the kitchen does deliver on the expectations of the rotisserie. The Duck for One (the restaurant kindly made one suitable for one person; the difference is two duck breasts are served instead of one) was fantastic. The duck has a wonderfully crisp, sweet skin due to the brushing of wild honey and orange blossom and the flesh is a perfect blush pink. The condiments or sides were a small cast iron pot of shredded confit of duck legs topped with cilantro that tasted soulful and delicious and pickled daikon radish and carrots and housemade crepes. Basically, this was inspired by the idea of Peking duck where one builds her own wrap with the duck confit and pickled vegetables.
As for the Provençal chicken (for one; $23) was served in a cast iron pan filled with two large leg quarters, covered in melted butter, densely covered in fresh thyme and rosemary felt like what I would expect for a restaurant that is pushing fancy breeds of chicken and cooking it very well. The meat was wonderfully moist and tender. The herbs were wondefully balanced with the flavors of the chicken. The crispy, skinny fries were a great side dish – not too crispy and not mushy.
To appease the vegetarians, the kitchen does have a roast cauliflower (it’s slow roasted in the rotisserie) that is Indian inspired. The halved cauliflower sits on a bed of creamy coconut wild rice, pickled raisins, vandouvan yogurt, cilantro and lime gremolata. It’s a flavorful, interesting kind of vegetarian dish that would appeal even to this (as in moi) omnivore.
The burger au poivre is a take of the well known steak preparation in the form of a burger. The soft potato bun melded with the wonderfully juicy, delectable Madagascar and Malaysian peppercorn crusted burger.
FInally to the desserts. The restaurant does not have an official pastry chef but Chef Kalkotour creates the recipes of the baked desserts and does make their ice cream and sorbets in-house. That all said, the flavors of the ice creams I’ve had in pistachio, vanilla, strawberry from The Beast Sundae ($10) decked out with lots of fresh whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fresh strawberries and chocolate sprinkles were very good. The ice cream themselves were flavorful but it’s on the leaner (not as creamy) side.
The seasonal fruit pies — rhubarb strawberry and apricot — were arguably my favorite of the spread of desserts of the evening. The crusts were perfectly made and substantial enough to hold the delicious heavy fruit filling. The rhubarb strawberry filling was tart and not too sweet (the way rhubarb pies should be) and texturally soft yet the rhubarb still kept its structure. The apricot pie was divine was well, as the fruit shined wonderfully and it wasn’t too sweet. The scoop of ice cream on both pies were fine, as I’ve mentioned above but I found it unnecessary for these beautiful slices of pie.
I really enjoyed the fresh baked mini madelines ($6) are one of the signature mignardises (the sweets served after the main dessert is served) when one dines at any Chef Daniel Boulud restaurants — and Kalkotour has taken this page. This was still as good as I’ve remembered eating at many Boulud restaurants. Light, delicately crisp on the edges and wonderfully cake-y texture.
To cap off this meal officially, I had an exquisite Hans Reisetbauer Williams Pear Eau de Vie. This Austrian distiller produces one of the best pear eau de vies in the world and it’s priced accordingly for $10 an ounce here but it’s certainly worth it. It’s very clean, potent pear aromas off the snifter glass and at the initial hit on the palate is the pristine pear but it gets so much more complex with a hint of spiciness, and the subtlest note of cut grass.