La Bête has found a unique way to sidestep the Monday night lull: by taking their show on the road. The same staff cooks in the same kitchen of the same restaurant, even including pieces of the same menu (their famous pork rinds and pickled shallots make an appearance), but diners go on a whirlwind culinary tour. Perhaps not something to call a pop-up restaurant, but a pop-out. The kitchen goes out of their normal menu, out of their comfort zone, into a new part of the food world.
Diners raved about their recent Indian menu, but now La Bête has moved on to Eastern Europe. Nestled in amongst the heaps of meat, a whole fish and an array of other options are the pierogi. Potato-based and often potato-stuffed, pierogi are no culinary innovation. There are good piergoi and bad pierogi, meat pierogi and cheese pierogi, but rarely truly innovative pierogi. They're what grandmothers make, not what restaurants serve. Except at La Bête, where pierogi are a plate to be proud of.
Plumply perched across the plate from the pierogi are fastidiously precise circles of rabbit wrapped in bacon, tiny coins of multi-animal meaty marriage. The dumplings themselves are well-balanced half-moons of greens, meat, and dough. Pierogi dough can often be gluey or tough, owing to its potato base. Not here, where the crunch of the crisped breadcrumbs sprinkled on top for textural contrast gives way to forgiving, comforting dough. The whole dish, meat and dumpling, is brought together with a rich broth. Only a tiny shred of dignity will prevent diners from slurping it straight out of the bowl.
Meals aren't always the smoothest, but the earnest service and adventurous kitchen make up for extra salt in the cabbage roll (which otherwise brought forth pleasant memories of family feasts and grandmotherly kitchens) and other small mistakes. None of which could over shadow the achievement of truly innovating and improving upon a classic dish without corrupting its roots: truly the grandest achievement for a dish.
Want to learn more about pierogi? Aside from getting yourself to La Bête on Monday night, check out Pierogi Fest, hosted by the Polish Home on May 5th.