Changing the Way People Think About Beer
Beer Bistro achieves its goal via both the selection of beers it serves, and also in its kitchen. Over 85% of the bistro's dishes include beer, and chef Brian Morin and his kitchen staff work constantly to create new and inspiring dishes made with their favourite beverage. The menu at Beer Bistro offers suggestions for complimentary beverages for each item, and the servers seem to be familiar with most of the beers available, both on tap and in bottles. For the non-beer drinkers, there's an extensive wine and cocktail selection.
Vegetarians, be warned in advance, the menu is meaty. Only two of more than a dozen appetizers are vegetarian, and the pairing of beer and meat seems like a logical combination. Fish dishes benefit from the inclusion of beer; the cider-cured rainbow trout salad is a hefty portion of greens, cidery trout, crisp apples and quail eggs. Mussels are prominent on the menu and pair amazingly well with the house-made sour dough beer bread which is also used in a variety of pizzas.
The mains offer more meat, but the fish and vegetarian dishes actually stand out. The pretzel-crusted halibut cheek in lager broth was outstanding and while some might find the potato truffle ravioli on the sweet side, the ale-braised mushrooms cut the heavy cream and truly compliment the pasta.
Beer Bistro has received raves about their hand-cut frites that accompany many of their dishes, but vegetarians can forget about these crisp and delightful fingers of starch -- they're made so delicious by the beef fat they're fried in. Burgers, ribs and that darling of the culinary scene, Berkshire pork, all make an appearance on the menu and all are complimented with an appropriate beer in their preparation.
Maybe it's just because I have a killer sweet tooth, but dessert here stands out the most for me. The dessert platter for two scores big with a selection of most of the beer-infused desserts. Flourless chocolate cake made with Chimay, a butter tart laced with Gulden Draak, Fruli cheesecake, and the chocolate peanut butter cappuccino made with Mill Street coffee porter are all my favourites! For the ice cream lovers, there are a variety of beer flavoured ice creams such as stout and Skor bar.
My only real complaint about Beer Bistro would be that it's loud and slightly cramped. The ceilings are high and the noise of a full house of diners tends to bounce around. Tables are close enough together that you can't help but hear the conversation at the table next to you. I'd recommend going on a slow night, but those don't seem to exist, as more and more people turn onto the fact that beer, and food made with beer, can actually be gourmet.
Beer Bistro [www.beerbistro.com] is located at 18 King Street East. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, open for dinner only on Saturday. Closed on Sunday. Dinner for two with beer pairings at each course approximately $170 with all taxes and tip.