Friday, June 6, 2014

Two Brothers Beer Dinner at The Signature Room

When talking about the view at area restaurants, while there are some restaurants with some very good views, there is one that is far and away much better than any other and anyone who has been there would agree that it has the best view in the city.  This would be The Signature Room on the 95th Floor of the Hancock Building.   I had gone there several years ago and while the food was good, it wasn't great.  I felt that they were using the view as the draw and the food was kind of an afterthought.  This changed with the arrival of Pat Sheerin as Executive Chef who remained for 6 1/2 years.  He has since gone on to open Trenchermen, but he left The Signature Room in the capable and talented hands of his chef de cuisine, Cardel Reid.  I came to The Signature Room for a Two Brothers Beer Dinner.  I mentioned that The Signature Room has an amazing view.  Unfortunately, it was foggy on the day that I went, so while we could see out the large windows, all we could see below us were clouds.  It was kind of like being in an airplane.  The dinner took place in a private dining room on the lounge floor on the 96th Floor.  Two of the walls were the fantastic windows with a third being a mural of the view of the city if the wall wasn't there.  The dining room was carpeted and had 6 large round tables that would seat 10.  There were two long tables that were used for staging before serving along the wall with the mural.  Overall, with the exception of the view and the mural, the room itself was not that exceptional and it actually kind of reminded me of an office building.  In any case, when I arrived, they were friendly and professional.  They gave me a placeholder with my name and table number and when I was seated, I was poured a Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale.
Before the dinner officially started, we were served an Hors d'Oeurvre consisting of a Fried Frog Leg Drummette with a Dipping Sauce.  Frog Legs are not something that you see on a lot of menus so I was comforted that they had upped their game since the last time I had dined there.  The breading was crispy and peppery and the frog leg itself tasted very good.  Frog legs are said to taste like chicken.  I will say that the meat was very mild like chicken, but the texture was a little different.
For our first course, we started out with Seared Scallops with Creamed Corn Grits, Popcorn, and Shrimp Roe Butter Sauce that was served with Two Brothers Ebel's Weiss.  I have said in the past that popcorn doesn't do anything for me.  I will say that while it added to the aesthetic of the dish, it really did nothing for me as far as taste was concerned.  The scallops were perfectly seared and the grits and butter sauce paired well with it.  The beer was light and soft with a slightly sweet flavor.  I will say that while I didn't think it was a perfect pairing, they also didn't interfere with one another.
For our next course, we were served Grilled Octopus and Asparagus Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette it was paired with Two Brothers flagship beer, Domaine DuPage French Country Ale .  This was a very simple dish that was done very well.  The octopus was well cooked and flavorful with a light char as was the asparagus.  The greens that were served with the asparagus were very fresh and the coriander added a peppery flavor.  The full flavor and the breadiness of the beer paired well with the pepper and the char flavors of the food.
The entree left the ocean and went to the woods with Seared Wild Boar, Morel Mushrooms, Cranberry Beans, Haricot Verts, and Two Brothers Outlaw Reduction which was paired with Two Brothers Outlaw IPA.  The boar was tender and flavorful, the morels added an earthiness, the cranberry beans added depth, and the haricot verts were crisp and juicy with a vegetal flavor that tied the hoppiness of the reduction to the boar and the beans.  The pairing with the beer was very good although I have to say that it was undoubtedly helped by the fact that the beer was used as the reduction for the food.
I will say that while I had liked everything that I had had up to this point, everything about dessert was a win.  We were served an Orange Chiffon Cake with Citrus Whipped Cream, Toasted Almonds, Basil Simple Syrup, White Balsamic Vinegar Reduction, Blueberries, and Toasted Almond Ice Cream which was served with Two Brothers Night Cat Hoppy Dark Wheat Beer.  The cake was moist and sweet with sweet tartness from the citrus whipped cream which tied in the balsamic reduction and the toasted almonds on the cake tied in the toasted almond ice cream.  The beer was unusual, having flavors and aspects of a wheat beer, a stout, and an IPA.  It was good though and the broad flavor spectrum paired well with the cake.
 The dinner finished with a cheese course with small bites of several cheeses and assorted accompaniments which were paired with Two Brothers Bare Tree Weiss Wine Barley Wine Weiss Beer.  Our cheeses were Vermont Creamy Coupole, Mitica Quadrello di Bufala, Five Spoke Creamy Cheddar, Harmony Lemon White Stilton, and Bongrain Cheese Company Saint Agur Blue served with Raisin and Walnut Bread, Polenta Bread, and House Made Chutney.  All of the cheeses were good and it was a good finish especially with the hearty and fruity beer.

I really enjoyed my dinner here and I will have to consider it for something other than the view.  It seems that they are taking their food seriously and the view is something to behold.   


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