Monday, January 21, 2013

Stout Barrel House & Galley - Deschutes Beer Dinner.

It is funny to thing about how the craft beer world has grown over the last twenty years.  While there were a few microbreweries, I think that it would have been difficult to have an extensive beer list.  We are now in a craft beer renaissance.  There are breweries all over the country and it is actually pretty easy now to find something that you have never had before if that is your desire.  There are several "beer bars" in Chicago but only a few have food menus of any note.  Stout Barrel House & Galley, a beer/sports bar in River North has a great chef in Chris Curren, formerly of Blue 13, who has created a menu of amped up comfort food. I actually came to Stout Barrel House for a beer dinner hosted by Deschutes Brewery, an Oregon based brewery that has just started selling in Chicago.  The menu and price for 4 courses and 4 beers looked good and I had thought about going so it seemed like a good time to go.  Stout Barrel House is a big space with a bar in the middle.  The floor, furniture, and bar were reclaimed wood.  The banquettes were covered in black leather, and the outside walls were antique brick.  Interior walls were would bent and formed like barrel walls, as were many of the hanging lights.  The dining area was divided between booths and high top tables and there are many flat screen TVs so you have a good view of the game no matter where you sit.  I was seated at a high top two top near one of the large windows which allowed me to watch the goings on on the street as well as having a good view of the dining room.  I let my waitress know shortly after I was seated that I had come for the beer dinner and my first course and beer were brought to me shortly after.  We started with French Onion Soup with Red Chair NWPA (North West Pale Ale) broth.  It was paired with Red Chair NWPA.  French onion soup, when done correctly, can be a meal all by itself.  The broth was very rich and the onions were very tender.  The broth and onions were topped with pieces of bread and melted Gruyere.  The dish was rich and savory with a lot of onion and strong cheese flavors and it definitely got me excited for what might be next.

The next course was Linguini with Mussels and Clams which was paired with Chainbreaker White IPA.  The Linguini was toothsome and flavorful and the mussels were cooked well.  The clams were removed from their shells and were chopped and mixed with the pasta.  For the most part, they were very good but there were a few that seemed not to have been cleaned well and I got some sand.  It was all sitting in a buttery sauce.  The hoppiness of the IPA paired well with the mussels and other than the sandiness of the clams, it was a good dish.

For the main entree, I had a Pork Chop and it was a very nice looking pork chop.  It was served with Capers, Brown Butter, Carrots, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts, with a Pancetta Chip.  It was paired with a Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  The chop was more than an inch thick and tender.  The pancetta chip was very crisp and like bacon and the vegetables were crisp and well seasoned.  It wasn't an exceptionally adventurous dish but it was filling and done very well.  I really enjoyed this but after eating it, I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to finish my final course, the dessert.

While I starting to fill up, I was going to make an effort on finishing my dessert.  I had a Chocolate Lava Cake with Blueberries, Blackberries, and Coffee Ice Cream.  The plate was sprinkled with powdered sugar and the beer paired with it was called a Black Butte Porter.  The pairing worked extremely well.  It was very dark and had a lot of coffee flavor to it.  The ice cream tied the cake and the beer together well.  It was really good but it was too heavy and I couldn't finish it.  I did finish the beer though as it was pretty good.

I really enjoyed my dinner hear.  The food was good and the service was fairly attentive.  This isn't normally a place that I would normally go to.  It has a sports bar vibe to it and I am generally not a sports bar person.  In addition, while my service was good, I have seen many notes about poor service and management when things get busy and late at night.  I might go back here but it would be a special event.       

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