Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Got Stuffed

Believe me, I'm not trying to rub it in.

Just because I ate some awesome food, paired with amazing ales, and learned much about Mill Street beer from the brewery's brewmaster, Joel Manning, doesn't mean I'm bragging. I just wanted to share. That's me.

The special-events room at the Mill Street Brew Pub was set up for 100 guests, and though it was a sold-out event, only about 85 or so people showed up. All I can say to those who paid but didn't make it is this: your loss!

For me, on the down side, the absences were felt because I had no one sitting to either side of me, nor directly across. The room was set with 10 long tables for 10 guests each. I had to speak across empty seats to share with my fellow diners.

The up side: when the beer trays came by, I scored a couple of extra drinks. Guests also walked away with a Mill Street bottle opener and pint glass, and I took one of the abandoned glasses at a neighbouring vacant seat. And so I can enjoy a Mill Street beer, in a Mill Street glass, with a friend.

Joel, was very entertaining and knowledgeable, though at times it was hard to hear him because the table behind me grew noisy at times. Twice, the revelers were asked to pipe down. Once, a brawl almost broke out. Almost. After all, everybody was there to have a great dining experience.

And a great experience we had. So, let's get to the food:

Course 1: grilled wild boar sausage served on a crispy potato pancake, topped with house-made beer mustard.

This was a delicious amuse bouche. The sausage was lean, the mustard zesty. It was a bite-sized treat that set the mood of the evening. Not heavy, and fun. The pairing, their Organic Lager, was light, refreshing, and palate-cleansing. It made me anxious for more. My mouth was watering.

Course 2: Vanilla-scented lobster bisque topped with saffron crème fraiche.

Pardon my French, but this bisque was f*cking amazing. I love lobster bisque, but the added vanilla brought a warm, subtle sweetness that married perfectly with the lobster. The saffron cream gave it a slight zing. And the beer match was obvious: Vanilla Porter. What a compliment. I could have eaten that bisque all night.

Course 3: Vegetarian chickpea and cauliflower curry, served over cardamom basmati rice.

I've got to admit: I don't like cauliflower. I wasn't sure about this dish. But I promised myself before arriving at the event, not knowing what food to expect, that I would eat everything put in front of me. And so I tucked right in. And it was great. In truth, I didn't even taste the cauliflower. It must have been puréed and mixed with the curry. There was no mistaking the chickpeas (I think some of mine were undercooked), but I had no problem with them. And the beer pairing was brilliant: Tankhouse Ale, Mill Street's flagship beer. The bitterness of the hops contrasted the curry in a way that was really special. I drink Tankhouse all the time, and never before had I considered having it with curry.

I'm now going to enjoy the two together every chance I get.

Course 4: Ontario lamb shank braised in Scotch Ale and veal stock, served with rosemary jus, colcannon-smashed potatoes and grilled brocolinni.

That was one helluvah lamb shank. Huge. The tender meat fell off the bone, melted in my mouth. Sadly, I found it too much after the first three courses. I was too full to finish it, but I loved it. And the Scotch Ale was perfectly paired, especially because the lamb was braised in it. The Scotch Ale was also rich, and I would have loved to have time to focus on it. I thought I would return another time to review it, but Joel told us that we were enjoying the last keg in existence. I almost cried.

Course 5: Baked brie and fresh berry compote tatelette, topped with Bière de Garde syrup and candied pecans.

What a wonderful end to a great dinner. Not too sweet, not too big, I had no problem putting this dessert away. And, luckily, the strawberries were off to the side. Sadly, I'm allergic, and had they been on top of the tart, I would have been unable to enjoy this treat. Dessert was paired with Ambre de la Chaudière—the last keg of Adam Rader's first batch. The day after I posted my review of this beer, the pub ran out. And because it takes five weeks to make this wonderful Bière de Garde, none will be available again until this Friday at the earliest. I know, that doesn't seem long. But I'm going to be back later today. And already, I crave more.

My hats off to Mill Street. The pub has only been open for eight weeks, and yet they have shown that they can put together an event that runs like clockwork. Feeding 100 people at once can't be easy. But they made it look like child's play.

The next brewmaster's dinner is set for April 29. Go.

So that's me, sharing my first-ever brewmaster's dinner. And it won't be my last. Maybe next time, you'll come along. And you'll thank me.

You're welcome.

Oh, and by the way: today's post is my 200th for The Brown Knowser. Thanks for reading!


  1. Congrats on a great meal and on your 200th post!

  2. Geekgirly: Thanks for following, Sarah! It's been a great ride so far.

  3. Thanks for the review. I desperately wanted to attend but was working the night shift. Great description of the menu! Every dish looks amazing. I have to agree with you that Mill Street has "set the bar" and definitely being noticed. I checked my calendar and am available for the next Brewmaster dinner! Thanks for posting the date.