Saturday, April 5, 2014

Goose Island Beer Dinner at Red Door

Every couple of months or so, The Reader sponsors a dinner asking a local restaurant to work with with a local brewery or winery to come up with a 4 course dinner paired with beers (or wines) from that brewery.  Recently, they asked Red Door to work with Goose Island for their dinner.  I had been a fan of the restaurant that was located where Red Door is now, Duchamp, but I had not been there since Duchamp closed, so I was unaware of how the space had changed.  I figured it was a good time to check it out.  My opinion of Goose Island had lessened somewhat when they sold out to Anhueser Busch even though I knew that they did still make some good beer.  I decided it was a good time to give them another chance and possibly see what was new at Goose Island.  I arrived on time for dinner but it was actually a little early because they weren't quite ready, so I sat in the main dining room and examined the space to compare it to Duchamp.  It was in the same building, so the entrance was in the same place, as was the bar, and the shape of the dining room was the same.  While the shape of the room was the same, the space was very different.  The red door at the entrance was solid wood and had a vintage style.  The left side of the restaurant, opposite the bar was lined with a tall light colored but heavy looking wood banquette.  The tables lining the banquette were hightops.  The room seemed to be filled with found objects of mismatched design and the lights were dim and hanging.  The space had a very rustic feel to it.  While I could still see Duchamp, it was also a very different space.  The restaurant also has a large patio with a communal table for dining in warm weather.  Duchamp also had the patio, of course, but I never saw it in either restaurant so I can only say that other people have said that the patio is very nice.  After sitting in the main dining room for a few minutes, we were guided into a private dining room in the back.  The design of the space was similarly eclectic but the color scheme was different (it was light green) and it had a large communal table for seating.  Unlike other beer dinners that I have gone to, Red Door actually offered a choice for most of the courses which was nice.  There were only about two or three choices offered for each course, but it was nice that a choice was offered.  For my first course, I chose a dish that I had not ever had but strangely had looked it up recently.  The dish was called Shakshouka, and it consists of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes and chili peppers, it was served with goat feta cheese and crispy pita chips and was topped with chives.  It was paired with Sofie, a Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale.  The tomato sauce was thick and almost had a pizza sauce flavor and the eggs were poached hard.  The feta added an earthy flavor and a semi-soft texture that paired well with the eggs.  It was all very spreadable on the pita chips and it was very good.  The earthy flavor of the dish also went well with the beer. 
The second course was a salad which was served with Goose Island's new 312 Urban Pale Ale.  The salad consisted of mixed greens, a lot of which looked like Raddicchio, Goat Cheese, a Grilled Orange, and it was topped with a Thai Chili Vinaigrette.  There was no other choice for this course and it was pretty simple, but there were some elements that were pretty good and the simplicity went well with the beer. 
The entree was decidedly more complex and hearty and it was paired with a decidedly more complex beer that I knew that I liked already.  I ordered a Grilled Hanger Steak with Chorizo, Sweet Potatoes, and Chimichurri Sauce.  The steak had a nice char which gave a good crust.  The sweet potatoes and chorizo were combined and added a sweet and spicy flavor, and the chimichurri added an herbal and garlicky flavor.  It was hearty and complex and I really liked it and it went well with the Matilda, a Belgian-Style Pale Ale.
For dessert, there were a couple of choices, although one seemed decidedly more farm style than did the other so that is the one that I went with.  The fact that the final beer was a wild ale helped me lean in that direction.  I went with a Seedling Farms Cherry Cobbler which was served with Buttermilk Ice Cream.  Seedling Farms produces some very good fruit and Red Door did very good things with it.  The cherries were tart and sweet which went with the tart sweetness of the buttermilk ice cream.  The beer served with this was called Lolita, which was a Belgian Wild Ale.  It was surprisingly sour.  It had a bit of a red wine flavor to it with a slightly sweet finish and it paired well with the cobbler.

Dinner here was very good and I really liked the pairings (if I didn't completely care for all of the beers).  It was also interesting to see the changes in the space.  I will definitely have to return to try more of their menu.

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