Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Appetite Adventure - Brewer's Art, Mt. Vernon

disclaimer: it is incredibly hard to take good photos in a dimly lit restaurant. please forgive the less than quality photography.

Brewer's Art - Mt. Vernon

Brewer's Art was first on my appetite adventure list. it's one of those places i hear people talking about a lot. actually, i find it hard to believe E and i have never been here before. not only is it a local balitmore favorite, but it also enjoys national notoriety as the #2 best bar in america according to esquire magazine. all in all, it seemed like the perfect place to go with my cousin Craig (the beer lovin birthday boy) and his lovely fiance, Lisa.

i assumed this would be a casual, pub-like place. it was probably the name and the fact they brew their own beer, but i was wrong. it's housed inside an old building on north charles street - actually an old townhouse. the first thing i noticed when walking inside was the high ceilings and old architecture. there is a bar on the main level as well as one downstairs with a more dark, dungeon-y feel. you can eat downstairs as well and i have to say, when we go back (yes, we will be returning), i'll request downstairs. i loved the feel down there. we ate in one of the two rooms past the bar on the main level. it felt cozy even when the place filled up as the evening went on.

as you might imagine, Brewer's Art is a great place for beer. they have a permanent list of beers they brew in-house as well as a list of guest beers (roughly 25-30) that is always changing. in addition to their extensive beer list, they also have a fairly long wine list, whiskey selections, brandies and ports, and a cocktail list. whew, there is definitely something for everyone at brewer's art. here are the house beers they had last night:
Our answer to the Belgian «devil» beers (i.e.
Lucifer, Duvel, etc.). Both rich and dry, this beer is
all too easy to consume in large quantities.
Hopped with Styrian Goldings.

Cerberus Tripel
It's best to treat this heavy hitter with respect and
caution. Innocently blonde in color and deceptively
smooth. 10%abv

During the fermentation of the first batch of this
Abbey-style ale, the yeast «died» and was
«resurrected» by brewer Chris Cashell. Made
with five types of barley malt and lots of
sugar, this beer is quite flavorful,
without being too sweet.

7 Beauties
This country rye ale is brewed with 7
types of malt, Brewer’s Gold, Northern
Brewer, and Sterling Hops. 5.8%abv

This blonde abbey-style ale is named for the physical process of turning solids into
spirits. A semi-sweet nectar with just a
hint of herbal bitterness. 6%abv

Zodiac Ale
Our session beer, this is brewed to a
different recipe every zodiac sign
(sometimes twice a sign)
usually around 4.8%abv

Proletary Ale
After much demand for a seriously dark beer, we
came up with this delicacy. Black, smooth and
easy to drink, this is our beer for the people!

E and Craig tried (and let Lisa and i generously taste) Ozzy, Cerberus Tripel (my close second favorite), Resurrection, and Sublimation (my favorite). Lisa and i both started with a "my little pony" cocktail upon our server, Cory's recommendation when i asked for something not too sweet. it was a combination of Sloop Betty Vodka (a Baltimore vodka), lemon bitters, ginger liqueur, and a splash of cranberry. it was good but next time i will stick with beer (which, if you know me, is a big deal as i am not a huge beer fan). i would recommend getting the beer sampler - something we all wish we had ordered for the table.

while Brewer's Art knows their drinks, their food is quite possibly even better. the seasonally changing menu has a good mix of fish, meat, and even a couple vegetarian options. we started with a small plate of porcini-ricotta gnocchi - described as a mix of ricotta, mixed mushrooms, fennel, celery root, truffle butter, arugula, and parmesan. the dish was amazingly smooth and rich. the mushroom flavor was spot on and had just the right amount of peppery arugula and shaved parmesan. the hint of truffle butter gave the gnocchi another level of richness that made it seem like they just melted in my mouth.

the special fish of the day was a japenese inspired rockfish on a bed of creamy sweet potato puree topped with braised barbecue short ribs and kimchee. i knew immediately it would be right up E's alley. both he and Lisa ordered it (Lisa asked for no ribs which our server was glad to accommodate). both raved about the dish and how well the flavors tied together.

Craig ordered the steak frites - a sirloin with a red wine shallot sauce served with rosemary garlic fries, and an arugula salad. i snuck a couple fries and was impressed - shoestring fries are my favorite.

i settled on the utz crusted cod. i figured i couldn't go wrong with potato-chip battered fish. it came served on a bed of whipped horseradish potatoes with sweet and sour cabbage and a slightly spicy mustard sauce. the fish was cooked perfectly and a carefully orchastrated bite including each element - the crunchy, tender fish, creamy potatoes, tangy slaw, and spicy mustard - was perfection.

we shared the blood orange tres leches cake for dessert. as you see from the plate, we devoured every sweet, creamy bite. the blood orange sauce was a nice change of pace as it cut some of the sweetness of the milk-soaked, whipped cream topped cake.

i have to say, this was a great place to kick off my appetite adventure. it's easy to see why Brewer's Art is considered one of the best bars in america. i feel like i got to know baltimore a little better through some brews and the seasonally changing menu has me wanting to come back and see what else is in store for my belly!

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