As usual Sj and I went to the nearly monthly Happy Gnome beer dinner last week. With things very crazy at my work, I was happy for a break to relax and enjoy a fun evening. As an added bonus my dad randomly came into town from Illinois and we were able to fit him into our reservation. He has been to a couple of these with us over the last few years and seems to enjoy them.
This month was Stone, of the scowling gargoyle and "You're Not Worthy" fame. We knew going into this that Sj and my dad might not be huge fans of the fairly "aggressive" hopping that most of the brewery's beer possess, but they seemed game and ready for a wonderful meal at least. As with most of our dinners we sat with the usual suspects and made for a rowdy table of foodies. The dinner is always upstairs in the firehouse room. We were greated at the top of the stairs by the new general manger Ryan, and were happy to see that Catherine was there as well for one last dinner before moving on to greener pastures. Good luck Catherine! Bellying up to the upstairs bar we were given a choice of Meet and Greet beer: Cali-Belgique the hoppy Belgian ale; or crazy hoppy 10 Year Anniversary IPA. I had both because Molly and Paul are rockin' servers!
The food as always for freaking fantastic. This is the ONLY place in the world I would trust to serve me aspicy steak tartare and not worry too much about E. Coli infection.
Course 1: The above mentioned tartare. Yes raw beef. But really tasty I swear. And writing this a week later, I never got violently ill! Served with the Levitation, a lighter bodied but still hoppy ale that did a great job of clearing the palate.
Course 3: The winner of the popularity contest for the night was the braised beef shortrib with truffled cauliflower puree and fresh grated horseradish. Yum! The pairing on this was amazing, and I'm fairly certain that Chef Brink braised the beef in the beer. Pair a smoky beef dish with a strong Smoked Porter? Crazy I say!
Course 4: Venison loin! Cooked to perfection and oh so tender, served atop bacon braised collard greens and corn puree. This dish was so strong that it stood up to Arrogant Bastard Ale. Bastard you have met your match!
Course 5: Vanilla bean panna cotta with fennel confit and house made graham cracker. This was a great way to finish the dinner. Not everyone liked the fennel, but I thought it paired great with the special desert beer, the Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout. Too bad I was feeling bloated by the end, and couldn't finish all of Sj's desert and beer.
I'm looking forward to the future beer dinners at the Gnome and hope that no drastic changes are made in the time-honoured traditions already in place.