The Brewer’s Art

We Dined Out For Life at The Brewer’s Art, since they were donating 50% of the proceeds to the fight against AIDS and to support Movable Feast.  I haven’t been here for dinner in a very long time and most of my friends have never dined upstairs.

I was running late and super hungry (as usual).  We order 3 apps because we couldn’t decide.  The Crispy Duroc Pork Belly was placed directly in front of me. IMG_2262 Winner! Chef seared it so it was crispy and little crunchy on the outside, but the fatty meaty inside was tender and incredibly rich, juicy and oozing with flavor.   To top the richness, they served it with fried clam bellies that were smoked.  The sautéed grapes and corn added a sweet balance and the smooth Riesling cream rounded out the textures of the dish.  I had mostly meat in my few bites, but I didn’t hear any of my friends complaining about having too much fat.  This was great and I am glad to see that it stays on the menu most of the time.
We also had the cheese spread – that came with rye sauerkraut crostini. This one was interesting – kind of like a cool and slightly thicker queso cheese with the slight spice and peppers.  The bread was sliced thin and super crispy.  This app was good – I mean it’s cheese, folks; I don’t know that I would order it over and over again. Although, I am confident you couldn’t keep me away from that pork belly.
Equally fantastic, although completely different and not quite comparable to that pork, was the heirloom tomato salad.  IMG_2263Basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and tomatoes of all different shapes and sizes – green ones, yellow ones, red ones, large ones, small ones.  Wait! Is this a Dr. Suess book?  Each of the tomatoes had a slightly different flavor, but each a unique burst of brightness.  Like the last bite of summer. Is your mouth watering yet? I haven’t even gotten to the mains.

These guys are known for both their steak and their rosemary garlic fries. IMG_2266 Two of my friends ordered the Steak Frites. Lucky for the rest of us; we could sneak a few fries. They use a tender hanger steak, grill it to your liking – even if that’s well done – and slather it with a sweet red wine shallot sauce. I had a bite or two and definitely love the fries soaked in the steak juices.

I went for something a little more seasonal – the smoked rainbow trout.  The fish was sweet with a hint of smokiness giving it almost a nutty and buttery flavor.  IMG_2265I liked the succotash almost as much as the protein.  It was outrageously flavorful – with tiny baby lima beans, small bites of crisp mild kohlrabi, and sweet corn. Those tiny little sungold tomatoes were also a perfect addition – the sweet citrus help fully develop the flavor of the trout.

The most appetizing thing on the table was the Lamb Neck “Osso Bucco”.  The aromatic meat was super tender, falling off the bone.IMG_2267 They served it with a grit like grain called farina mixed with Butterkäse, which is cheese, but with the texture of butter – adding a wonderful richness to this already savory dish.  All of that yumminess is surrounded by a tasty soffrito.  They top it with a little watercress – maybe thinking something this rich needs a little greenery?

As if that isn’t enough – and due to more indecisiveness we went with three desserts.  IMG_2268My favorite was the “bread pudding” with apples and apricots.  It was more sponge cake like – incredible balancing of the fruit sugars with the perfumed vanilla custard.  So good; I am so glad I stuck to my guns and made us get that.  It might have been everyone’s favorite.  Although, we also quickly polished off the carrot cake – my favorite part was the pumpkin brittle on top.  The rum cheesecake frosting was a great topper to the cake, which was a little crumbly for me and not nearly as flavorful as the one at Ethel’s.  One of my friends loved the Chocolate Proletary Torte, and it’s a good thing, because I couldn’t even go for a second bite.  I also didn’t notice the Proletary Ale anywhere in the dish.  They are not kidding when they say dark chocolate – incredibly rich – and far to chocolatey for lack of a better word.  I think a chocolate lover would be head over heels.
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Cafe Cito

I am a fan of breakfast and places that serve it well after 1pm. These guys do not have a liquor license, but are BYOB. I am not sure what that means for mimosas. Hmm, note to self… Cafe CitoThey do serve Portland’s Sumpton Coffee – several different beans – Indonesia, Rwande Huye Mountain and their own house blend.  We had a super sweet and attentive server named Aurora – I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday afternoon experience. My favorite is that we have a chance to be a little retro and use a chemex. My coffee was super smooth and mild – needing very little milk or sugar, plus I was able to drink it sitting in the sunshine on a beautiful sunshiny day.

I actually ordered the first thing I saw on the menu, a hand crafted egg sammy on ciabatta.  A fried egg with smoked duck sausage – a perfect combination of savory with just a little sweet.  Duck Sausage and Egg Breakfast Sammy  My egg was a stellar over medium; the yolk flowed adding great taste and smooth texture to the sandwich.   They have a multigrain, but I wanted to spluge on this gorgeous crusty, yet soft ciabatta roll.  It was buttered just a little.  I loved it.  It is a ginormous sammy on a super tiny small plate.

My mom went with the summer frittata after asking for some help from Aurora.  A great sized portion of egg mixed with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, baby spinach, basil, and goat cheese, served along a large baby greens salad.

As if that wasn’t enough food, I couldn’t resist the organic vanilla yogurt with house made fruit and granola.  I think this pick says it all.  Yogurt with Fruit and Granola
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World of Beer

I am not a huge fan of chains – but when it comes to watching sports – especially not the local teams, they seem to be the best choice.  CJ over at World of Beer has been incredibly responsive and accommodating for my alumni group to watch our football.  They have a ton of large TVs and offer tons of games.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I can talk for days about football – but, this blog is about the food.  IMG_2226They have great happy hour specials – $1 off drafts and $5 food specials – including this ginormous pretzel with 5 choices of dipping sauces.   It’s a soft pretzel – soft bread with glazed and salted crispy crust.  I got the honey mustard and the spicy mustard and the beer cheese.  The honey mustard was by far my favorite.  The beer cheese was quite disappointing – it’s kind of nacho cheesy style – with some peppers – but it has absolutely no flavor – no spice, no cheese notes, no beer taste… Not sure why anyone would pay an extra $1.50 for it.  I will definitely order this again, as long as I have someone to share it with – this picture does not do the size of this pretzel justice.

That same beer cheese is the reason I also suggest you skip the tater tots.  Once again, not much flavor in the beer cheese, the sour cream is really not necessary and kind of unappetizing.  Plus the tater tots are so uninspired, the bacon and jalapeños (which are not pickled) don’t really make the dish any better.

Truth is – the food here is quite good – including this fantastic Pint of Bacon.  IMG_2227 It is exactly what it sounds like – a pint glass full of bacon. The folks here take thick cut bacon and cover it with brown sugar and spices so that it has a little bit of a crusty glaze. I like to add a little more sweetness and get a little maple syrup for a dipping sauce.  Plus, there is plenty to share with all of your friends.

I also really enjoyed these cute little sliders.  They are made with a bratwurst that is infused with Guiness beer and topped with Dijon mustard and caramelized peppers and onions.  IMG_2228 Plus, they have these tiny pretzel buns that are warmed and add just the perfect amount of sweetness to the sausage.  You can get these with tots as I did, or with a kale and apple cole slaw or garbanzo and edamame bean salad.  A few of my friends have tried the cole slaw and are big fans of the tangy and crispy apples combined with the small bites of kale.

IMG_2223There were also no complaints about any of the flat bread – we had the half portion on special. IMG_2224 Our group tried the Chipotle BBQ Chicken (shown here) and also the Margherita, which came with a perfectly nutty pesto.  In fact, there were many glowing recommendations for the mac and cheese and a few beer pairing suggestions.

As for the beer at this place – they have about 60 or so different draft beers.  They range in price and alcoholic beverage content – so please be careful.  They also change very regularly – the menu is printed daily, so you might not always be able to find the same beer week after week.

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