City Tavern hasn’t done a large scale beer dinner in a while, but it was definitely worth the wait. December 2nd, 2012 marked the date of the first family style beer dinner at City Tavern with guest brewery Figueroa Mountain Brewing. City Tavern is well known for its southern themed gourmet gastropub fair, and Figueroa Mountain has steadily been gaining traction with their amazingly well crafted classic styles, so it comes as no surprise that these two would be a perfect pair. Thanks to Director of Culinary Development, Jessica Christensen, and Chef de Cuisine, Wesley Pumphrey, the final product was a rich and flavorful tasting adventure covering everything from cheesy shrimp and grits to pork osso bucco jambalaya.
*Beers dinners are interesting to write about, as they require hefty amounts of photographic food porn to be effective. Most of my pictures are snapped using the efficient iPhone 4s with an Olloclip attachment, but in low light settings, taking catching food pictures is next to impossible. Stan Lee has generously supplied some high-res pro pictures to help tell the story of our meal. That means that if the picture looks great and is well lit, it’s probably one of Stan’s. Thanks, Stan! In case you want to compare and contrast pictures from Canon vs. iPhone – check out the gallery at the bottom of the article
- Shrimp and grits – Confit cherry tomatoes, cheesy herb grits
- Danish Red Lager – Vienna Style Lager – 5.5% ABV @ 23 IBU
- Salad of Baby Greens and Chicory – Shredded duck confit & cracklins, roasted chestnuts, cara cara orange and stilton
- Wrangler Wheat – American Wheat Ale – 4.5% ABV @ 30 IBU
- Pork Osso Bucco Jambalaya – Andouille, braised pork shanks, trinity with long grain rice
- Hoppy Poppy IPA – American IPA – 6.5% ABV @ 60 IBU
- Davy Brown Mac n’ Cheese – Bacon, five cheeses, and buttered bread crumbs
- Braised Tuscan Kale – Slow simmered in roasted brown chicken jus
- Southern Corn Bread – Whipped maple butter
- Davy Brown Ale – American Brown – 6.0% ABV @ 29 IBU
*Tasting Notes: Sides that could have been a meal by themselves. The mac n’ cheese was amazing by itself. Davy Brown was infused into the cheese sauce, and the bacon was nice and smokey. The garlicky kale and sweet cornbread squares were nice with the breadiness of Davy Brown.
- Bourbon Bread Pudding – Candied pecans, butterscotch, creme Anglaise
- Magpie Baltic Porter – Baltic Porter – 7.0% ABV @ 37 IBU
The portions for both beer and food were incredibly generous, and the price, at $48, was very affordable. Most everyone left with to-go boxes to carry home extra food while others stayed to complete their happiness journey as they polished off the tail end of the growlers. The show stopper and highlight of the night was the Davy Brown Mac n’ Cheese. This is one of those dishes that should be ordered immediately if it ever makes its way back to the menu on a normal night. It’s rich, heavy, and brain numbingly good. With sharp cheddar, havarti, bleu cheese, goat cheese, and parmesan, this dish is blasted to the moon with the cubes of bacon and buttered bread crumbs on top. You may have to run 50 miles to wear off the goodness, but it’s definitely worth it – heck, you may want to run 100 so you can go back and have more.
Figueroa Mountain Brewing makes incredibly solid classic styles. If you don’t believe me, check out their website and check out all of their GABF awards. Their branding, by taphandles.com, is eye catching and thoughtful. They’re one of those bottles you’ll probably pick up just because you like the label and go back because you loved the taste. I loved the pairings during dinner, although it would have been great to pair all of the different beers with each course. We were lucky enough to meet many of the faces behind the brewery. Owners Jaime & Meighan Dietenhofer and Brewer A.J. Stoll were there to introduce and talk about their beers.
My only real critique was that the food overpowered the beer in certain instances. Classic styles are delicate and can sometimes be hard to pair with rich gourmet food, which is why most brew pubs stick to simple fare. That being said, this isn’t a bad thing. Each beer paired very nicely with each course; you just had to work a little harder to get the full effect. Luckily there was plenty of beer to go around, so that wasn’t an issue.
The family style beer dinner is a new concept and something that I feel should be repeated. It has an informal nature that pleasantly pressures you to learn the names of everyone around you. That being said, some of the other patrons at our table preferred the format of the traditional dinner. The opinion was split about 50/50. What does that mean? Maybe a variety of beer dinner styles is the way to go; switching back and forth depending on time of year and menu. Regardless of format, beer dinners at City Tavern will continue to be one of the most enjoyable beer events in Los Angeles for me. It’s more of a beer and food appreciate night, and it’s one that I’ll repeat as often as I can.
*Thanks again to Stan Lee, City Tavern, and Figueroa Mountain for providing the great pictures, amazing food, and tasty beer. Cheers!