Bestia: The Beast of Amazing Eats
It all began with a clandestine call between my mother and my girlfriend one Sunday afternoon while I was sleeping off a hangover. I imagine it went something like this…
“Is he napping?” Ma asks.
“What do you think?” Adeye dryly retorts.
“I was thinking of getting Eric a gift certificate to a restaurant for his birthday, is there any particular place he really likes?”
“There’s this place Bestia that he’s been wanting to go to forever…”
Now, for those of you who are not residents of Los Angeles and have not heard of Bestia or if you do reside in the City of Angels and haven’t heard of Bestia, it is one of the most sought after dining spots in the city and it is really difficult to get a good reservation.
By “good” I mean at a reasonable dining hour, which for most of us rests in between 7PM – 9PM. It is also important to note that at a popular restaurant, one that is going to be packed at all times, food runs out. So you don’t want a reservation past 9PM because your options become limited; and really what’s the point in that?
When I got the email with my mom’s $150 gift card I went immediately online to book my reservation and was not so shocked that it took thirty minutes to lock in a desirable eating hour… seven weeks away.
The tricky thing about anticipation is it can lead into expectation. If the anticipation is a long drawn out affair the expectation bar rises so high the pilot tells you that it is now safe to freely move about the cabin.
That is a dangerous amount of expectation.
Bestia, you better deliver. My mother’s money and my belated birthday dinner rest in your hyped hands.
Seven weeks finally pass and Adeye and I are seated on the patio at 8:30pm on Friday night.
At first glance your eyes and ears and nose tell you it is okay to be hopeful and relief washes over you. The energy of the interior warms you with promise as everyone is excited to be there. People are either expressing pleasure, respite or exuberance.
The sweet fragrances from the kitchen seep seductively into your nostrils making you giddy, and suddenly you are calm and confident that it’s okay to have had high expectations and perhaps that prolonged wait might not only be worth it but forgiven as well.
Now there is no way to work your way through the entire menu in one sitting, even though you will be tempted to. It would take three, four visits to do that, but your mouth is going to demand that you give it the old college try because let’s face it, unlike sex, there is nothing like the first time. And what better way to lose your cherry than with a bottle of wine? A dry Riesling, maybe? Yes. Yes, I think we will.
We started with the Grilled Octopus and Calamari with arugula, mixed mushrooms, and fennel with aged balsamic and chili lemon vinaigrette.
First off, thank you!
Thank you for reminding what truly fresh seafood is supposed to taste like. I wanted to go for a dip in the ocean after this. The bitterness of the greens and balsamic contrasted well with the octopus and the light chili lemon flavor balanced it all out. Bravo. Excellent start!
The next course, a suggestion by our brilliant waiter, Richard, was the Mackerel Crostino with burrata, tomato jam, baby kale and chives. This dish really takes you by surprise, like “next level” type of surprise.
Basically it’s the best tuna melt of all time. Served chilled.
The jam isn’t too sweet and compliments the burrata wonderfully. The baby kale gives it a slight bitter kick and wanted texture. The bread itself is moist, airy and crispy around the edges.
And the Mackerel, holy fish balls!
Rich yet light. Fishy but not overpoweringly so. Hearty but not too filling. It’s the whole package.
Hard to follow up on that.
I thought, “Bestia, you might have blown your load early. I don’t know what else you can divulge that is going to get me to drop my pants any quicker.”
“What, Bestia? Say it again, I didn’t quite hear you, did you say ‘moan’? Oh, Bone. Bone who? Ah, Bone Marrow. Alright, bring it on.”
So… I am just going to shut up and eat from now on because I obviously don’t know who I am f*cking with. Bone Marrow with spinach gnocchetti, crispy breadcrumbs and aged balsamic?!?! I am just a puppet on your string.
This is just a stupid good dish.
It’s ridiculously tasty and a bonafide, legit government toppler. It brings you to your knees to submit to its flavors. The fatty roasted marrow mixes in, around and every which way with the gnocchetti and the sprinkle of breadcrumbs adds a playful texture to it. This is a rich, silky and smooth dish.
Okay, fine sir, what other secrets do you wish to bestow open thee? I am all ears, nose and throat.
Do I like sausage?
Oh, for sure.
Come, come man, of course.
Dear Readers, may I introduce you to the Cavatelli alla Norcina. Ricotta dumplings with house-made pork sausage, black truffles and grana padano.
Bestia, it’s almost like you know me, dude. Inside. You and I share a lexicon and sensibility that feels eerily close. Like we were born from the same foodie womb.
There are a few things in this world that I know to be true.
- Los Angeles traffic will never get better, only worse.
- The Knicks will not be winning a championship title in 2015 or anytime soon for that matter.
- This dish will always erect me.
The truffle flavor beams in this dish, the light coming from the dumpling, the sauce, the sausage. The ricotta dumplings are not heavy as one would imagine and they soak up the flavors exceptionally.
And the homemade sausage… well damn. Just damn.
My girlfriend thankfully does not dig on swine so this was not a three way and I got to have this girl all to myself. But I wouldn’t feel badly for Adeye, she ordered her own stallion, a Idris Elba to call her own, and it came in the form of Quadretti alla Carota.
She was kind enough to give me a bite and it was a wonderful summer pasta dish. Incredibly light and delicate with an array of soft gentle flavors like squash blossoms, summer squash and carrot puree.
Not to mention it was just an extremely pretty dish. The two pasta dishes couldn’t be any more different. One was strong and simple the other complex and dainty.
Bestia, you are sharp, clever, creative, and tasty as f*ck, but most of all you care. You really care. It was well worth the wait and I have already made another reservation… 8 weeks away and this time I will be happily paying for it.
You are truly a beast, Bestia.
Now here’s my mother’s money!
If you are patient enough to wait for a reservation and you should be, leave some room for more alcohol and go down the street to Fifty Seven.
They have a basement bar that serves quality cocktails and host live bands. Based on my one time there, the bands are good. The space is small and looks like, well, a basement. Bare brick walls and a room adorned with Edison light bulbs, I dig vintage.
Among the options of cocktails, they serve up a shot of well bourbon and a 16 oz. can of Schlitz. I can’t help myself with this stuff. I just can’t.