The last time I was on Frazier Avenue I saw an interesting place that I knew I had to come back for, called Beast and Barrel- Gastro Smokehouse. I just knew I had been to that restaurant, but it was called something else.
I swonny, the way Chattanooga restaurants keep changing, you’d think they are trying to trick ol’ Willie Mae. By this time, it’s hard enough to remember where all I have been, without having to remember if it was called something different. My granddaughter told me when I see a place I am not sure I have written about, that I should ‘Google myself’ but without using my last name, every time Mr. Google brings up ‘Willie Mae’ it is an obituary and I really hope I don’t find myself there.
When I looked through my notes and didn’t see any story on the beast place, I asked Lou to go with me. I was ready to take on the beast, but not without my bodyguard.
We parked near Coolidge Park and walked in from the back. When we were walking in, the darling girl up front smiled at Lou and said, “Y’all look so happy.” I looked over at Lou and he was just walking his usual walk. When I looked confused, she continued to say, “… he’s just coming in here dancing.”
I hated to burst her bubble, but that’s just how Lou walks. He does have a spry in his step and moves his arms back and forth. I guess one would think he was dancing, but I know the truth - he pushes the air back to help him walk!
We like to sit in booths, but this place only had tables and chairs. It was pretty nice the way it was set up and true to the nature of its name. There were beasts’ heads hung all over the walls. The a/c pipes above us were red - not just painted red, but swathed in silky red cloth. I got the feeling that the owner liked the color red, especially when I saw the red painted deer head!
When I pointed it out to Lou, the know-it-all informed me it was ‘a stag’. I don’t know why they painted it red, but I didn’t say a word, I just minded my own business.
Our waitress came to our table to take our order and asked us if we had ever been there before. I didn’t want to go through a long conversation about me being there when it was called something else, so I just told her no. Her next question was, “Do y’all like meat?”
The last time I was asked that was by a boy with long hair and he asked if I was a ‘carnivore’. I wanted to use that word and tell her I was one of those, but she already went into her prepared speech of what they offered.
Our waitress dressed hippy-ish and her face looked like Julia Roberts. After she gave us the run down on the beasty items, she asked if we would like an appetizer.
Lou picked out the ‘Jack Rabbit Slims’ for $7. I had no idea what that could’ve been and I didn’t get to see the description (I just hoped they weren’t fried cotton-tails). The waitress gushed, “They are freaking phenomenal.” I was glad she was so excited about them.
We went ahead and ordered our meal. I wanted to try the duck burger for $13 and cooked well-done like I like my burgers. Our waitress suggested that I get it cooked medium or it may taste too dry. I appreciated her helpfulness and took her advice. If there is one thing I have learned on my little hobby, it is that hippies know how to eat!
Lou ordered the BBQ Burger, which was the special of the day, for $11. It was a burger with BBQ pork and cheddar on top and his sides were fries with parmesan cheese and cole slaw.
When our rabbit slims were brought to us, I noticed they looked a lot like onion rings. We unfolded the black and white checked cloth napkins that were tied in a knot and put a slim on our plate. They had honey-mustard sauce drizzled across them. The onion rings themselves tasted delicious, but the sauce was too sweet for me. Lou liked them and finished them up.
Our meals arrived and boy, did it smell good! I was looking forward to trying the duck burger, but I also looked forward to the side order of broccoli salad.
The duck burger had what looked like a big dollop of brown horse-radish sauce with a small dollop of some sort of tinged pink sauce, but I was wrong – the pink-ish white stuff was goat cheese. I was in heaven! Especially, when I asked about it and the gal said the pink in the goat cheese was a little Sriracha sauce. I knew about that sauce – it has a kick! I didn’t see what could go wrong with a kicking goat on a duck …and I was right! It was stupendous!
Lou loved his burger. He said the cole slaw was different and had a hot mustard base. My broccoli salad was not what I expected and, when that happens, it always throws off that first bite. Instead of chilled, it was roasted. It was fine, but I had really hoped for the crispiness of a cold broccoli salad.
My burger was so tall I could barely get my mouth around it. When no one was looking, I smashed it down a bit. I didn’t need my bun to be light and fluffy anyway and I was focused on the meat.
I didn’t have a second side to save room for dessert. When the waitress came to check on us, we asked her about them. She first mentioned the Ricotta Beignets. Just the sound of ricotta for dessert made my stomach wince. She then described it as a lemon curd and I stopped her right there and asked, “What do you have that is chocolate?”
She suggested the Kentucky High-Rise Pie for $7. It was made with ganache, bourbon and smoked walnuts. Lou tried to be funny and spouted off, “Oh my ganache!”
We shared the pie and it was good. It had the texture of pecan pie but sort of cookie-like in the middle. The smoked nuts made all the difference in the overall flavor.
I would never have expected a place with an animalistic name to have such wonderful food. They definitely get a Willie Mae “Whee-ee-doggie” because it was the best kicking goat on a duck that I have ever tasted.
Hours: 11am - 2 am