Chef-owner Ethan Stowell’s menu was paired with Belgian-style ales from Quebec’s Unibroue brewery. All bottle-conditioned, Unibroue’s effervescent ales complemented Stowell’s light touch, with an odd exception.
Here are my tasting notes:
First course: Totten Virginica oysters with cucumber coulis, paired with Blanche de Chambly.
A cidery ale with a hoppy nose redolent of coriander, orange and curacao, Blanche de Chambly dried out oysters’ lingering saltiness and brightly complemented cucumber dressing’s fresh hello.
Second course: Striped bass tartare with ginger and green apple, paired with Ephemere Apple
A white ale base with fruit musk, Ephemere Apple matched green apple and ginger’s brightness. While it smelled like Jolly Rancher apple candy, the beer was more tart than sweet, almost wine-like. It deepened the raw fish and mellowed bitter wood sorrel garnish.
Third course: Grilled branzino with chickpea salad and salsa verde, paired with La Fin du Monde
Unibroue’s flagship beer means “the end of the world,” but this pairing was the beginning of something beautiful. Golden, with coriander and curacao notes, triple-fermented La Fin du Monde danced against the pesto-y, parsley snap of salsa verde and smoothed away the fatty sheen of the fish skin.
Fourth course: Roasted Squab with pear mustard and saba, paired with Don de Dieu
This was the only pairing that didn’t work for me. A slightly sweet ale with lots of wheat malt, Don de Dieu was too weak for the ruby-roasted game bird. But it worked against hot mustard and matched the bitter-sweet notes of saba, a condiment made from white and black grapes.
Fifth course: Grilled beef loin with artichoke puree and shallot sauce, paired with Trois Pistoles
Deep reddish-brown with licorice and star anise notes, this beer mellowed shallots’ bite and sweetened the tender meat.
Sixth course: Pecorino Toscano with fig marmalade, paired with Edition 2004
Complex and jammy, the beer’s spicy cardamom edge outmatched marmalade’s cloy and dissolved the cheese’s salty bite.
Seventh course: Chocolate terrine with malt ice cream and hazelnuts, paired with Terrible
This dark, dry ale turned dessert into one continuous flavor. Yum.