Wednesday, July 25, 2012
A beer dinner...in Waconia!
My new home town of Waconia, Minnesota is not known for its restaurants. We have one mediocre restaurant on the lake that hasn't changed its menu in 4 years and has a lousy beer list; a McDonald's and several Subways. A few years back Terra Waconia opened up in the space that used to be The Green Room, and changed all that! Craig Sharp and Tracy LeTourneau do a great job running the place and have managed to bring an upscale eating experience to this town. The menu changes daily based on seasonal and local cuisine, so the poor servers have to memorize a fairly complex list each day. Overall the restaurant puts out very good food, but is sometimes a bit slow, so don't show up if you are in a rush. You should take your time and enjoy your food and dining anyway!
Terra does frequent wine dinners, and there have been a couple attempts at doing a beer dinner here before, with varied issues leading to fall-though. Last night everything finally worked out! I recently talked with Tracy about ideas of breweries to involve, and one that stood out was Brau Brothers. Not too long ago they went through some re-branding, with new labels, tweaked recipes and focus on different beers, so I was interested in what they were currently doing. They are also a family run, local company that would pair well with the style of the Terra Waconia. For the beer dinner, they sent out Alex (not sure of his last name...) who was a great beer ambassador, educating the predominantly wine-loving clientelle.
The food was excellent, my favorite being the arctic char. All were served in a paper tray with parchment paper lining, which worked for a beer dinner, but wouldn't fly with a wine dinner. I think this actually sped up the serving quite a bit, since the staff didn't have to spend a ton of time washing plates between each course. The beers were better than I remember them, certainly some changes in recipe going on here. My favorite beer was the Hop Session, a low gravity hoppy ale with (I think) Zythos blend hops and an experimental New Zealand hop that hasn't been named yet. The meal was finished off with a stout float and biscotti that was quite nice.
Overall a great local experience and I hope there are more to come. If you visit the restaurant, (and you should help keep them in business,) please tell them you want more!