Petra and the Beast opened last April and is two restaurants in one. During the week (closed Monday and Tuesday) they have a chalkboard menu where everything is a la carte for lunch and dinner but on Saturday night they produce a tasting menu for 18 lucky people. This menu included things not on the regular menu and changes every week. Seating was communal with 3 tables each seating 6. It is BYOB at all times. We were there for the Saturday evening tasting. The building used to be a service station but chef Misti Norris has transformed the space into a pleasant space decorated with dried herbs and flowers and lots of jars of ingredients. A high tin ceiling was above the exposed ductwork and the bare wood tables, set with metal chairs, were all slightly different. It was a setting full of hard surfaces and so the noise level could be a bit high. Seating was not assigned so it’s a fun opportunity to meet some new people also interested in food. Arrival time was 7:00 but then there was a period for you to look around and enjoy a welcome cocktail, which is given to you after you’d taken care of the evening’s payment.
We started with a plate of snacks, some of which were on the regular menu, and all of them were full of flavor. From the top left, Brined Demasses cucumber was very tart and a little salty with a bit of spice. Very nice. Top right was Cotechino Terrine which was quite solid and dotted with a bit of mustard. Very good. Just below was Nduja on a celery cracker. This really crisp cracker was topped with a seriously spicy paste that made a delicious combination – one of my favorites. A chunk of Sourdough bread was on top of Sorghum Koji Butter. The bread was totally yummy and the the butter rich and equally yummy. Another favorite here. Diakon and Fermented Garlic Chive was at the bottom of the plate and it was crispy and herby, but probably my least liked of the bunch. It was a tad dull in comparison. A Watermelon, Peppermint was lightly salted and absolutely wonderful. The taste was sweet and intense. In the center of the board was Smoked Pork Tongue. It was quite firm with a little saltiness. It was nice.
The bread on the plate was so good some of our tablemates asked if there was more to buy and they found enough slices for us each to have another. It was toasted with a bit of butter and more was on the plate. It was divine and when I go back I’ll plan to order an extra plate if available.
Brassicas were served with smoked shitake, farm cheese, Narazuke daikon, salted pecan and double mint. The daikon was quite crisp and tart, the mint made up the smear on the plate, the mushrooms were wonderful and the pecans were nicely sweet and totally crisp. All the flavors here combined well and left a great taste in your mouth afterwards.
Field peas were served in fermented potato liquid with chili oil. The liquid was tart with a bit of spice. There were chunks with a bread pudding consistency in the broth that added another texture to another nice dish.
First season squash were mixed with Gulf crab, dill and seeds. This was a great dish – the crab was sweet and very fresh and mixed nicely with the smooth squash. Another good combination of flavors and textures.
First season squash, gulf crab, dill, seeds
Confit Demasses Eggplant was served with Xips (Catalan for chips), Sourdough, Cold Fermented cucumber and Toasted peanuts. The sourdough was in the form of bread sauce which was creamy and fun. Some of the eggplant was turned into crispy chips which were really tasty. The peanuts also added some good crunch. It had a number of nice flavors and good textural contrasts. Another winner.
Pork Tenderloin was plated with Pressed Shoulder meat, Homestead Grits, Strawberry Figs and sorrel. The pressed well done meat was packed into a little cube with a crispy exterior which was very savory. The grits were made into thin crispy chips and I could not detect any strawberry flavor in the figs. It was a lot of fun flavors and textures but I’m not sure they were necessarily better when combined. However it could still be called good.
Dessert was Red and Yellow Watermelon plated with Sponge Cake and Rind. The red was the sweeter of the melons but not as intensly flavored as it was in the first course. The sponge cake was nicely tender and moist. The creamy bits moistened all even more and it was a mild but not an intense sweet ending.
A final treat was a better sweet ending – a peanut butter ice cream sandwich served on some really buttery cookies. It was divine. I look forward to going back!