|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 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.
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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.