EAGLE ROCK — When Little Beast first opened last year, I was impressed. I loved how they’d transformed the Craftsman bungalow formerly occupied by soul food joint Larkin’s, turning the porch and side yard into a lovely alfresco experience and, a few peccadillos aside, I also had good things to say about their elevated take on standards, like a beautifully stacked tuna tartare, their beastly house cheeseburger, and an outstanding bread pudding lavished with vanilla creme anglaise. Since then, and a couple of months shy of its first birthday, Little Beast has grown into a neighborhood favorite, and their latest menu, which gracefully transitions from winter to spring, showcases a kitchen that has truly evolved in such a short time.
Small plates, and lots of them, are the way to go at Little Beast. Two of us shared four plus an entree, which may have been one too many, but it was hard to narrow it down. First came two specials: the Crab Louie Salad and Steak Tartare. The salad was a ying-yang combo of fried breaded shrimp offset by a hefty portion of chilled crab meat. The Thousand Island dressing, the very idea of which can be scary, was subtle and tangy. The Steak Tartare was a light and savory mix of minced hangar steak, truffle oil, shallots, cornichon (pickled gerkin), and extra virgin olive oil.
We charted a vegetable course with the help of burrata and prosciutto. Though not unexpected, the duo never fails to jazz up any veggie it touches–charred asparagus, in this case. This dish represented the seasonal crossroads so well with the meat and cheese adding a cozy element to the ready-for-spring asparagus and frisee. The Charbroiled Artichoke was more firmly planted in the new season. The simplicity of its preparation, the only additions being a sprinkle of sea salt and a light lemon aioli dipping sauce, made it the perfect springtime snack.
Our only entree was the stellar Scottish Salmon, flaky and well-seasoned, served on a bed of mashed, creme fraiche-laced fingerling potatoes and watercress. A light caper butter sauce and salmon roe caviar took the ordinary right out of this dish, and the presentation, topped off by a sprig of fresh dill, can only be described as lovely.
Much like my first time at Little Beast, I was easily tempted by the dessert menu. The Belgian Chocolate Pudding was deep, rich and creamy. A hefty dollop of chantilly cream and a dash of sea salt kept the chocolate from becoming overwhelming. Also well composed was our favorite of the night, a Buttermilk Panna Cotta covered in a layer of sweet, ripe strawberries and crumbled vanilla wafers–we made sure to get a little of everything in each luscious bite. And, yes, my spoon was scraping the bottom of the jar at the end.
1946 Colorado Blvd.
Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.