Tuesday, December 18, 2012

BrewRiver Gastropub

Moderately priced selections range from excellent to mediocre with lots of beer and some lovely wine

Dexter Checks Out the Beautiful Bar
     Neil had gone to BrewRiver Gastropub for lunch and suggested it when Jan and Mike contacted us about going out last week.  It’s in the same house on Riverview where Maribelle’s used to be.  We went at 5:45 p.m. to beat the Friday night crowd.  The pub is located downstairs and it was
pretty lively at that time, while the more relaxed restaurant is
The Movie Poster Room
upstairs.  By putting up ‘30s movie poster reproductions on the walls, the din is reduced from when it was Maribelle’s.  However, it does become very busy.

     Our server was very knowledgeable about the beers and wines being offered and he also name-dropped the chef’s connection to Emeril Lagasse.  I found the beer menu confusing because they collaborate with a number of different microbreweries and some of the beers are available and some aren’t and I didn’t have the patience to keep it straight because I wasn’t going to drink beer anyway.  Mike ordered one of Founders’ Brewery selections and liked it.  I chose the Le Lapin Zinfandel, which was a pretty dark scarlet and was smooth, well rounded, and frankly just tasted like more.  The wine list is much easier to maneuver.

Curried Beef Short Rib Poutine
     The New Orleans theme is a big deal, though I’m seeing a little too much of Louisiana lately.  Ohio and Kentucky have excellent culinary histories, which the menu focuses upon as well.  We shared the Curried Beef Short Rib Poutine and it was pretty good.  Thankfully, it didn’t taste too strongly of Thai green curry, which it threatened in its description, since that would have destroyed the soul of this Quebecois, not Asian, dish.  (This was not the right choice for a fusion approach). The meat was tender and juicy, but it could have used more gravy and cheese curds.  The Senate is still the standard bearer for this dish.  The Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese was far more successful and the large portion was more than enough for the four of us to share as a small entrée.  

The Gumbo
     We chose from all over the menu for our individual main courses.  Mike had the Gumbo and it was a good version and tasted authentically of the bayou.  Jan ordered the larger version of the New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp.  They consider this one of their specialties, but it doesn’t work.  The shrimp are large, properly cleaned and cooked, but they weren’t barbecued and they hadn’t touched the sauce until they just about left the kitchen.  The sauce tasted of Worcestershire Sauce and Liquid Smoke, but not of a smoker or a grill.  (There also wasn’t any accompaniment with the fish).

Oyster Po' Boy
My Oyster Po’ Boy sandwich was very good and I liked the seasoning and light breading on the oysters.  Some reviewers thought there weren’t enough oysters, but maybe that’s been rectified because there were enough for the four of us to have a taste of them.

Homemade Goetta Croquettes
The best dish was the Homemade Goetta Croquettes, which was an elegant, whimsical version of a regional icon.  I know a lot of people say they don’t like goetta, but it isn’t any different from a White Castle slider as Neil pointed out years ago.  The spicy, cream based dressing was a hit as well.  This dish needs to be permanently added and the shrimp cut.  The problem is focus.  Everything regional and local was more successful and original at this juncture than the New Orleans dishes.

Baked Apple Betty
     The Baked Apple Betty was very good and we were all able to sample it.  The fruit was properly cooked so that it tasted of cinnamon and was both firm to the fork, but tender when bitten.  The homemade Hazelnut Gelato was light and a good complement to the fruit and the streusel top.

     We enjoyed the experience and are considering a return.  The ambiance is fun and different and the service forthright, friendly and efficient.  The chef can certainly cook.  However, some pruning of the menu and beer selection would strengthen the restaurant’s image and guarantee more regulars.

And...a photo from Neil's lunch visit.

Fish and Chips with Truffle Mac n' Cheese

BrewRiver GastroPub on Urbanspoon

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