We Dined Out For Life at The Brewer’s Art, since they were donating 50% of the proceeds to the fight against AIDS and to support Movable Feast. I haven’t been here for dinner in a very long time and most of my friends have never dined upstairs.
I was running late and super hungry (as usual). We order 3 apps because we couldn’t decide. The Crispy Duroc Pork Belly was placed directly in front of me. Winner! Chef seared it so it was crispy and little crunchy on the outside, but the fatty meaty inside was tender and incredibly rich, juicy and oozing with flavor. To top the richness, they served it with fried clam bellies that were smoked. The sautéed grapes and corn added a sweet balance and the smooth Riesling cream rounded out the textures of the dish. I had mostly meat in my few bites, but I didn’t hear any of my friends complaining about having too much fat. This was great and I am glad to see that it stays on the menu most of the time.
We also had the cheese spread – that came with rye sauerkraut crostini. This one was interesting – kind of like a cool and slightly thicker queso cheese with the slight spice and peppers. The bread was sliced thin and super crispy. This app was good – I mean it’s cheese, folks; I don’t know that I would order it over and over again. Although, I am confident you couldn’t keep me away from that pork belly.
Equally fantastic, although completely different and not quite comparable to that pork, was the heirloom tomato salad. Basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and tomatoes of all different shapes and sizes – green ones, yellow ones, red ones, large ones, small ones. Wait! Is this a Dr. Suess book? Each of the tomatoes had a slightly different flavor, but each a unique burst of brightness. Like the last bite of summer. Is your mouth watering yet? I haven’t even gotten to the mains.
These guys are known for both their steak and their rosemary garlic fries. Two of my friends ordered the Steak Frites. Lucky for the rest of us; we could sneak a few fries. They use a tender hanger steak, grill it to your liking – even if that’s well done – and slather it with a sweet red wine shallot sauce. I had a bite or two and definitely love the fries soaked in the steak juices.
I went for something a little more seasonal – the smoked rainbow trout. The fish was sweet with a hint of smokiness giving it almost a nutty and buttery flavor. I liked the succotash almost as much as the protein. It was outrageously flavorful – with tiny baby lima beans, small bites of crisp mild kohlrabi, and sweet corn. Those tiny little sungold tomatoes were also a perfect addition – the sweet citrus help fully develop the flavor of the trout.
The most appetizing thing on the table was the Lamb Neck “Osso Bucco”. The aromatic meat was super tender, falling off the bone. They served it with a grit like grain called farina mixed with Butterkäse, which is cheese, but with the texture of butter – adding a wonderful richness to this already savory dish. All of that yumminess is surrounded by a tasty soffrito. They top it with a little watercress – maybe thinking something this rich needs a little greenery?
As if that isn’t enough – and due to more indecisiveness we went with three desserts. My favorite was the “bread pudding” with apples and apricots. It was more sponge cake like – incredible balancing of the fruit sugars with the perfumed vanilla custard. So good; I am so glad I stuck to my guns and made us get that. It might have been everyone’s favorite. Although, we also quickly polished off the carrot cake – my favorite part was the pumpkin brittle on top. The rum cheesecake frosting was a great topper to the cake, which was a little crumbly for me and not nearly as flavorful as the one at Ethel’s. One of my friends loved the Chocolate Proletary Torte, and it’s a good thing, because I couldn’t even go for a second bite. I also didn’t notice the Proletary Ale anywhere in the dish. They are not kidding when they say dark chocolate – incredibly rich – and far to chocolatey for lack of a better word. I think a chocolate lover would be head over heels.