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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beer Bistro

Review Location:
18 King Street East
Toronto, Ontario
(Major Intersection: Yonge St. & King St. E)

Beer seems to be well adored in the city of toronto. It is so versitile, and at Beer Bistro, it has taken a classier face similar to the reputation of wine. I was overwhelmed by the restaurant's beer list which was an entire booklet with hundreds of beer choices --it was definitely hard to choose just one!

Luckily, their food menu had suggested pairings. The menu was quite limited, but for each dish there is a suggested taste category of beer that you should order with it. I found the categories pretty helpful because that way I can try a new beer but still ensure that it will have characteristics that I like. I actually wanted to try the fruity beer that they had on tap, but it was out of stock that night! I guess on the bright side it means there are no worries of low turnover and getting the bottom of an old keg!

You can see the open window kitchen on the right

One thing I do want to point out is that this place is really loud. First sitting down, I couldn't come to terms with the sounds of utensils coming from the wide open kitchen at the back. Its so open that you can actually see it and the chefs cooking! Couple that with the amplifying effect of conversation from all different tables, and it got pretty busy! I got used to it after a while and proceeded with my meal.
Beer Sampler ($6.00) 

The sampler gives you an option of 3 beers. We chose 3 to pair with each of our food items. (I've also decided to add prices to each item, because one of my friends made a complaint that I didn't. =P Maybe I'll get around to retroactively adding prices to my prior posts one of these days too...)

"Belgian Frites" ($6.00) -blanched in beef and duck fat, house-made mayonnaise; smoked tomato ketchup

Yes people, these fries actually taste as good as they sound in the description. I don't really know how to describe them, but they almost taste homemade. It wasn't mushy inside, and had small hints of raw potato flavour. They went great with the homemade smokey (almost barbeque tasting) ketchup and even better with the beers that we ordered. a must try!

"Lobster Quesadilla" ($18.50) -leeks, sweet peppers, corn, smoked cheddar, basil & cilantro, avocado salsa; gueuze-soured cream

You know when you order something, and it tastes good and all, but you still don't end up liking it just because it didn't meet your expectations of what it was? That's how it was with this. It was a bit disappointing because there were a totally of 3 pieces of lobster in it. Rob mentioned that this would've been great they loaded it up with some cheaper meats like chicken, and I think I would have to agree. Half the time I felt like I was eating a veggie quesadilla!

Left: Belgian White ($16.95) -blanche de chambly, garlic, parsley, lemon, cream
Right: Brussels Mussels ($16.95) -affligem blonde, smoked sausage, tomato, hot chilis, fennel, parsley and garlic

So the funny thing about the mussels is they actually brought us the wrong order at first. Not noticing, we ended up eating a handful of clams before we noticed and informed the waitress. I guess that's enough of a sample for me to comment on both orders! The mussels seem to be really popular here and I can see why. It comes in a generous portion and is served in a creatively designed pot that keeps the mussels on one side of the pot allowing the sauce to be exposed for bread dipping. The Brussels Mussels was the one that mistakenly came, and Luckily this wasn’t our order because it wasn’t that great. The sauce was a standard tomato sauce base which I found overpowered the natural taste of the mussels. It was good for dipping bread though. The cabbage and sausage themselves tasted a bit off, and didn't go well with the sauce. The Belgian White on the other hand was the complete opposite. The sauce was very neutral in terms of flavour, and the buttery lemon brought out the natural freshness of the mussels. However, the sauce was not too good to dip bread in. I guess the choice of sauce here really depends on how flavourful you like you seafood.

"Rocky Road Ice Cream Sandwiches" ($8.50) -coffee porter, homemade marshmallows, walnuts and stout brownie cookies
If there is one thing that you have to order from Beer Bistro (aside from beer of course), its the ice cream. Me and rob shared the 2 small sandwiches that came on one order of the ice cream sandwich. On the menu it came with "Rocky Road & Coffee Porter" ice cream but we asked the waiter if we could switch to the "Dragon Stout & Skor bar" and she was happy to do so. The ice cream was so good! It has a distinctive beer flavour to it, but not too much that it would be revolting. Add in the skor bits for a bit of crunch and it was perfect! In fact I thought the brownie cookie took away from the ice cream because it was overpoweringly sweet. Definitely would order the ice cream on its own next time.

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