Fantastic Beer, Misleading Food: Heist Brewery

28 Mar

In the middle of Black Friday, at a random time between meals (3 pm in the afternoon), my husband and I wandered into Heist Brewery for some drinks and to grab a snack. The place was fairly quiet and empty, and we sat in the main space.

He ordered the pint on the right – Wheat Me Baby, an easy drinking wheat beer.DSC01343

For Black Friday, Heist offered a flight of small batch beers with a coffee theme, like Nova’s Bakery Chocolate Caramel Truffle, a Russian Imperial stout (9.1% ABV) and the Central Coffee Ethiopian Guji, an American IPA (6.4% ABV).  Yum. Heist has some pretty fantastic and beers.

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Now here’s the misleading food: Rosemary Parmesan tater tots

DSC01346As a side dish for $4, I expected enough tater tots to share. But there were only four to an order. Though they are delicate and flavourful, with made-from scratch shredded potatoes, they still felt like a rip off. A heist indeed.

We came back to Heist Brewery on a Saturday night. It was busy and incredibly loud due to a football game on the screens. The noise was on the verge of being annoying due to the repeated chanting and screaming of the fans. If you’re not a football fan, don’t go to Heist on game day.

Fantastic beer: I ordered another beer flight and discovered one of my favorite Heist beers: Cross-Pollen Nation, an American stout brewed with Belgian yeast. It’s smooth, with hints of chocolate and in my opinion, coffee, even though the flavours are supposed to be fig and plum.

DSC01364“Burger Burger Burger”

Misleading food: For our entrees (or so we thought), we each ordered “the Burger.” (priced like an entree). The server did not indicate that we would not be getting regular-sized burgers, but three sliders. I’m not sure if I was supposed to understand that from the name of the entree (“Burger Burger Burger”), but the description made no indication of mini burgers!

Still, these sliders were delish. I ordered the “burger” medium-well and my husband ordered his medium. Both our plates came out perfectly. The jalapeno jelly, creamy goat cheese, spinach, and little brioche buns made for some pretty gourmet sliders. Too bad they didn’t come with fries.

 DSC01357Salmon tacos on “sticky bun” shells beat my expectations:  Excellent marinated sashimi tuna on crispy Asian-style buns

The Final Word: Definitely come for the beer. The food is good but a bit pricey for the portion size.

Info: Heist Brewery, 2909 N. Davidson Street #200, Charlotte, NC 28205 USA

Heist Brewery on Urbanspoon

Two Beer Gardens in SRQ

21 Mar

During my last trip to Florida, we swung by two beer gardens, one big and one small. Here’s the down-lo.

JDubs Brewing Company, Sarasota

Here’s the front of JDub’s – it’s nothing fancy.

JDubs

The other side is where the action is. Being at JDub’s is like being in your buddy’s backyard, with a couple of cornhole games to make up for the slightly rickety picnic tables. He’s also your coolest friend because he brews awesome beers.

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Inside, the bar is pretty small – enough space to fit about 3 people. Just squeeze in at either end to order your pint. Aside from the bar there is also one long table over looking windows to the brewery.

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Motorworks Brewery, Bradenton

On the other end of the beer garden spectrum is Florida’s largest patio at Motorworks Brewery in Bradenton. There’s a stage for a band, a large projection screen (great place to watch a game), a raised deck area around a huge tree, a small mini golf area, and about ten setups for corn hole. Near the corn hole games there is space for a food truck – which is where all the food is made if you order anything other than beer from the menu. My portobello salad was great, with two huge mushroom caps, but it came on a styrofoam plate.

Motorworks: cornhole

A large deck surrounds an old tree. This is the place to be.DSC01690

The brewery hosts some pretty cool events too – I saw posters for pilates (followed by a pint of course) and a chili cook off.

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Inside there is plenty of seating, a long bar, another stage and projection screen, darts, and a popcorn machine where you can scoop your own. A window at one end of the bar lets you see the tanks where the beer magic happens.

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I ordered a beer flight:

The Nitro is award winning. It has a unique taste with hints of coffee. I liked the taster but I don’t think I could drink a full pint. The coffee porter on the other hand is easy drinking. Probably my favourite out of the bunch. The India brown ale has a herbally finish. I couldn’t taste the melon in the Melon Kolsch. My husband found it too bitter for his taste. Lastly, the Session is easy drinking but not particularly remarkable.

Motorworks: flightAside from Motorworks’ own beers, the long drink menu includes bottles from other craft breweries, as well as wines, if beer isn’t your thing. When in Bradenton, no matter your preferred drink, the Motorworks beer garden is the place to enjoy it!

Info: Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West, Bradenton, FL 

Motorworks Brewing on Urbanspoon

Form vs. Function at Royal, Watertown

13 Mar

Last weekend was the long awaited soft opening of Royal in Watertown. (The restaurant had been slated to open 2 months ago but hit a few snags.) When we found out that Royal had opened, my husband and I hurried over there to experience the New American/French cuisine for ourselves.

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The restaurant itself nails the loungey vibe and vintage-meets rustic look, with gold-framed mirrors adorning deep red walls and blackboards hanging from the ceiling near the entrance . 

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Royal is trying to be a lot of things – a dining room but also a coffee shop, given this setup for sugar and milk, near a rack of to-go coffee cups.DSC02078

The coffee was terrific both in taste and in price – a bottomless cup for $1 with purchase of an entree. It came in nice large mugs, but milk and sugar were delivered in small espresso cups. It was impossible to pour milk into my coffee without spilling much of it on the rather dusty tablecloth.

Royal Watertown soft openingIt’s clear that form trumped function in Royal’s choice of dinnerware.  Our water glasses were large squarish things that seemed more suited to being table centerpieces – something you might put a floating candle in. Though the concave edges cradled my lips as I sipped, the container itself was awkward to hold.

On the other hand, the food is delicious and creative, and artistically presented. Here’s the amazing house boursin and wild mushroom omelette with a chive hollandaise, potatoes, heirloom tomato salad, and arugula.  DSC02089

Still, aesthetics comes first. All entrees, like my ham and Gruyere crepe below, came beautifully arranged on a rectangular “platter”. I use quotation marks because I’m not quite sure what to call it. It was a heavy black thing with rough and slightly sharp edges, and a textured surface. The platters did show off the food as works of art – like paintings, but they were awkward for the servers to carry.

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I was actually having trouble finishing my meal – partially because it was filling, but also because I was getting worn out from the exertion required to cut off each bite – the butter knife I had was not sharp enough to cut through the crispy crepe and the uneven surface of the platter didn’t help. That was a little too much exercise for me at brunch time. My husband joked that it was as if we were eating gourmet food off of a sidewalk.

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The Royal pancakes had a lot going on – too much for my husband’s taste – he wouldn’t get them again. But I thought that the combination of salty of the crispy pork belly and the sweet candied walnuts and syrup actually worked. Royal pancakes

Right now, Royal doesn’t look like much on the outside. But the inside holds a lot of promise. There are still some kinks to be worked out – the placement of the tables could be improved for example, and the dinnerware tries too hard to be trendy. However, the food is definitely creative and tasty. Royal is definitely a much-welcome addition to Watertown!DSC02095

Info: Royal, 45 Lexington Street, Watertown, MA 02472 USA
Royal on Urbanspoon

Tale of Two Boston Bakeries

28 Feb

Here are two bakeries on opposite sides of the Charles River, both offering delicious goodies!

Paris Baguette is inside H Mart in Central Square, so it’s no surprise that there are Asian influences.  It’s like Hong Kong meets Paris – you’ll find red bean-filled donuts alongside baguettes, as well as some truly American concoctions like cream cheese donuts and croissant donuts.

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As it turns out, Paris Baguette is part of an large Korean conglomerate and is expanding its American presence. I’m not a fan of chains, but I can’t deny that these treats satisfied my sweet tooth.

  Inside a green bean bun:DSC00904

Chocolate bread….MMmmmmm!!DSC00907

Info: Paris Baguette, 581 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

SwissBakers has two locations, one in Allston and one in Reading. I visited the Allston location on Western Avenue near Harvard Business School. It’s a modern, IKEA-like space with big windows. There’s plenty of seating both inside and out on the patio (when it’s warm enough). Another big bonus: a parking lot!

Here’s the box full of Euro-treats I got: almond, chocolate and spinach croissants, a raspberry Berliner, a chocolate chip bun, and a pear and cheese tart. The tart has a shortbread crust and is topped with thinly sliced pears. Somehow, its flavour reminds me of Chinese egg tarts (which are also very yummy).

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Inside a raspberry Berliner:

Swissbakers: BerlinerThe Berliner is slightly crisp on the outside with granulated and powdered sugar, but light and springy inside, with raspberry filling. I like that it’s not too sweet.

 Cheese and spinach croissant, flaky and stuffed with spinach!DSC01915

Both these bakeries deserve return visits!

Info: Swissbakers, 168 Western Avenue, Boston, MA 02134 USA

Swissbäkers on Urbanspoon

 

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