I have driven by and walked past the Bourbon Steak restaurant at the Americana at Brand quite a few times now and always wondered what it was like inside. And on Friday night, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to find out. (Full disclosure and tease of an opinion piece coming tomorrow, I had a media pass for the dinner)
Beer pairing dinners, for me, always have that item that you don’t like (for me it was the raw fish), an item that you don’t think will pair well with beer (Pad Thai) and an item that you know will be a home run (peaches, ricotta and Oarsman ale).
This was the 1st such beer pairing dinner for Bourbon Steak and partnering with Bell’s Brewing is a strong head start. They have a wide variety of beers and aren’t loaded down with IPA’s which are notoriously hard to work with.
As expected the first course with the quasi/neo/sorta Berliner Weisse Oarsman was an excellent opening salvo to the night. The cream and especially the cheese and the fruit were in marked contrast to the slight tartness of the beer.
Skipping over the raw fish course though, let’s go straight to the beer for that course, Oberon. I learned the proper pouring technique from the Bell’s crew. Pour the beer into your glass, swirl the bottle (or can) and get some of that yeasty sediment going. That way you get a nice cloudy Oberon filled glass.
Course three was a trio of pork with (2!) beers to compare and contrast. Amber Ale and the famous Two-Hearted Ale. The pork was delicious any way Bourbon Steak presented it. So much so that the food overpowered the beer. I thought the sausage with the Two-Hearted worked the best because it was a battle of spice on hop. The gentle amber with some tea notes was better as an after the course beer.
Then it was on to the steak and I really loved it. Yes, it was oversalted but it melted on the tongue brilliantly. Pure luxury. And it came from a family farm that has been in business for a long time. The Pad Thai noodles were also a bit on the salt side but paired so well with the licorice tinged Kalamazoo Stout. A pairing that I thought would clash like boxers in a ring. The stout dulled the salt and added that licorice bitter note that pulled the whole thing together.
I was dead full by this point. Beer is a much more varied and interesting pairing partner for food but the downside is that it fills you up. I so wanted to polish off the S’mores dessert which was excellent but I just couldn’t. The Double Cream Stout played well with the chocolate which brought out more coffee ground flavors from the beer but it wasn’t a Wow pairing. With each bite, I rotated through other Bell’s beers to see what would bring out more.
The verdict? – The sommelier at Bourbon Steak is a beer fan and if the Flat Iron is any indication, you will get a seriously good steak here and have some solid if not horribly exciting beer choices. With $4 happy hour beers. They also have a monthly “Down the Hatch” series which focuses on a tasting of different types of drinks. August covered Digestifs and maybe a beer-centric tasting will be happening in future months. But if Bourbon Steak puts on another beer dinner, buy it. $55 plus tip is a steal for the amount of food and beer that you get.