Step into Beast + Bottle for brunch on a weekend morning and you'll probably be greeted by tunes from the ’60s, which help set the mood for the relaxed morning you're about to experience at the cute and sunny Uptown neighborhood bistro.
You'll also notice a giant mirror hanging on the back wall of the dining room, bearing the names of the Colorado farms that Beast + Bottle relies on to keep the kitchen stocked with meats and fresh produce. Both the music and the mirror are precursors to the overall brunch experience the B + B team has become adept at putting out since opening just over five years ago.
I don’t consider poutine a classic brunch dish (nor would most other regular brunchers), but I’m a sucker for cheese and gravy over fries. Beast + Bottle's breakfast version rivals the poutine I enjoyed in Montreal, where the dish first rose to fame. If you're like me, you'll fall for the shoestring fries drenched in pork gravy (instead of standard brown beef gravy) and loaded with cheese curds and pancetta. A fried egg topping the tangle of potatoes is what makes this version specifically tailored to brunch.
Once you've made sure to order the poutine from the shared-plates menu, you can move onto a selection of egg-based dishes, sandwiches and sides. From French toast to lamb shawarma, somehow everything comes out great. Eggs Benedict here comprise soft poached eggs perched atop cured Arctic char (coming in somewhere between trout and salmon). The salty, savory fish is a unique substitute for Canadian bacon beneath a classic Béarnaise sauce.
The buttermilk biscuit breakfast sandwich comes with a thick wedge of housemade sausage, eggs, cheese and a slice of pickled apple, which adds a unique bright note to the rich and filling dish. This normally comes with fries, but do as I did and substitute a salad to keep things light (especially if you've already taken my advice on the poutine). My side salad was simple and delicious, with a light dressing and a scattering of apple matchsticks.
Beast + Bottle's bar is small, with room for only about six stools, but the bartenders make the most of their limited space to create cocktails that are both aesthetically pleasing and delicious. The "Tangled Up in Peru" is crafted with cachaça (similar to light rum) and a hint of lemon; it's served on the rocks with a sprig of Peruvian black mint. It was sweet and refreshing, and not too boozy for 10 in the morning. The mimosa was fairly standard: cava mixed with a choice of orange, grapefruit or pomegranate juice.
Aileen Reilly co-owns Beast + Bottle with her brother Paul, who heads the kitchen. Aileen describes working with her bother as "the family car trip that never ends," which sounds excruciating for teenagers, but as adults they've proven it can be a rewarding experience. Aileen’s husband, JP Taylor, is a sommelier who "dragged" Aileen to Lyon, France, for a few months to continue his wine education. Taylor also happens to be the restaurant's wine director, making Beast + Bottle truly a family affair.
As for brunch, Paul says that the menu is liable to change based on what he can source from the farms he works with. He describes his brunch as "comfort food in a comfortable atmosphere," and once you see it, you’ll understand why. The intimate dining area houses big booths surrounded by art pieces that incorporate wine and liquor bottles. Beast + Bottle has served brunch since it first opened, and the chef notes that “for some restaurants, brunch is an afterthought, and ownership tries to repurpose lunch and dinner items, but for us, everything is intentional. We put thought into each item, and with the exception of a few shared plates, almost nothing from the dinner menu is on the brunch menu."
Beast + Bottle is located at 719 East 17th Avenue and serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Call 303-623-3223 or visit the restaurant's website for more information. Hot tip: Once you've hit brunch, return in the afternoon and grab an outdoor seat for patio-only happy-hour service, available every day from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and offering select appetizers and drink specials.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.