Do you believe in perfect bites? I’m talking about those moments when a dish—and all of its components—come together just so. This is what chefs hope you experience when eating their carefully composed dishes. Sometimes those sauces and garnishes and main ingredients work together and sometimes, well, they don’t. Flawless bites are rare, but I had one on Saturday night at Beast + Bottle, Paul and Aileen Reilly’s new place in Uptown.

That bite came courtesy of the crispy head cheese appetizer. The dish, in many ways, stands as an ode to everything Beast + Bottle is about. With a dedication to the whole animal (Paul and fellow chefs James Rugile and Wade Kirwan butcher on-site), the head cheese uses the scraps that often are tossed aside. Formed into a patty, lightly breaded, and fried, the dish would feel heavy if not for the tangy, mustardy sauce gribiche and the tangle of bitter frisée on top. Fork some of the caramelized onion chutney onto the meat’s outer crust, add a feathery whisp of frisée, and dab that combination into the gribiche, and you’ve got salty, sweet, crunchy, smooth, and bitter—all in a single bite. And it’s perfect.

—Photo by Taryn Kapronica

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.