Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tuesday

Northward Expansion: Jeremiah Hammon (owner at Mo's, a Place for Steaks) and a partner have inked the deal for their next area project -- an Irish pub at Saxony in Fishers. In keeping with the Mo's restaurant family tradition (you'll understand if you're in Milwaukee), it will be called, natch, Mo's Irish Pub. Target open date is May 2.

Hoosier Beer Geeks on Dining and Beer: Over at Hoosier Beer Geeks, Mike has asked if some of my readers have any comments on why fine dining restaurants don't serve or offer more craft beers with food. I suspect I know the answer on a number of levels but that doesn't mean beer lovers can't dream.

Updates from Reader Questions: Julia at The Dish reports on the Japanese grocery one reader asked us about. One World Grocery in Castleton making sushi. Don't know if this was the place a reader asked about that carries fresh whole seafood.

Wait and See: Also from The Dish -- an update on Taste of Tango, the Argentinian place downtown long in the works. From Julia:

Promises, Promises: Local Realtor Fabricio Perez says his plans for an Argentinian restaurant Taste of Tango at 36 E. Washington St. are well underway, and he is aiming for an April or May opening. Sure, he initially promised the vacant space would be rehabbed and ready for business by July 2007, but it sounds like he really means it this time: "The renovation is almost complete," Perez says. "We could be ready to open in a month if we wanted, but I don't want to open in wintertime anyway."
Quiz Answer: Razor Clam! Whether it's the texture of the form (razor clams are a long, thin, sweeter clam), razor clams have long been particularly well-suited for grilling. You could grill any of the others but probably not with as much success. Plus, James Beard liked them. 47% got it right.

24 comments:

Kristen said...

Mmmmm...I had an absolutely delightful meal at the Mo's Irish Pub in Milwaukee a couple years ago. I am a big fan of anything imported from Wisconsin. I'm excited to have the pub here. They had these potato pancake boxty things that were just divine!

And the One World Grocery has great sushi. It is an excellent market. They also have nice bento lunches.

Donald said...

...why fine dining restaurants don't serve or offer more craft beers with food. I suspect I know the answer on a number of levels but that doesn't mean beer lovers can't dream.

Because they're stupid "foodie" (god, I hate that word) snobs who'd rather pay $25 for a glass of crap wine instead of a flavorful beer?

Mike said...

Thanks for the link.

Donald said...

Oops! I meant to say "because their customers are stupid foodie snobs...". I need more coffee.

Rodney said...

Sounds like someone needs to pick up a copy of The Brewmaster's Table.

braingirl said...

I think you'll find there are a wide variety of reasons that restaurants don't carry craft beef and has little do to with whether the chefs or GMs are foodie snobs -- or think their customers are.

Check out the convo at Beer Geeks and see if you some of you guys can convince some chefs to give it a try if you'll patronize their restaurants and pay the margins on craft beer they'd need to see to make it as profitable as liquor or wine.

Donald said...

braingirl:

My response was intended to be a joke (guess I suck at jokes).

I think the reason is twofold...
1. You mentioned margins - That's probably a big reason.
2. There isn't a large beer "culture" in Indy (please don't attack me beer geeks - I'm one of you!). Most people around here think of Bud Light or Miller Lite when you say beer, so naturally they won't think of it belonging in a fine-dining restaurant and ask for a beer list along with the wine list.

braingirl said...

(My jokes are often bad before coffee, too.) I agree. You can do fantastic pairings with beer and I have had some amazing, unique and unusual beers that I'd choose over fine wine myself. But changing the fine dining culture, and showing restaurantuers how they can make money on it is the real barrier.

peter said...

Yeah - I'm sure more high-end restaurants would push the craft beers more aggressively if they sold as well as expensive wines. Then again, keep in mind that many restaurants have pretty ordinary, uninspired wine lists (at least by the glass) and they still make good profits on the sales. And as big as the craft-beer market has become, Budwesier and the like are still more likely to sell even in finer places.

I believe Elements, R Bistro and many other places in town have very good beers on their lists. That is, if you consider Bell's, Goose Island and others to be good.

CorrND said...

rodney -- thanks to your recommendation a couple months ago that I check out The Brewmaster's Table, I received a copy of that book for Christmas. I've only read select sections so far but it seems loaded with useful information. Thanks again!

Rodney said...

I feel like I push that book like it's my job! I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing yet.. :)

Anonymous said...

to me, it is obvious... a fine craft beer IS fine dining...a gormet meal in a pint... there is a vast array of appetizers, main coures, and dessert offerings as well.

anony-mouse said...

So wait a minute. Craft beer doesn't have a wide enough appeal for fine dining establishments to bother offering it, but they go to great lengths to offer foods which many people don't like or won't try (foie gras, pates, etc.). And those food offerings will most assuredly spoil, while a quality beer will age well unopened, just like a bottle of wine.

I've never run a restaurant and I'm not in the business either, but I just don't understand. I understand it is a business, but isn't part of the reason that people go to fine dining establishments sometimes to stretch their palates and dining experiences. Why don't resturants do that with beer.

I think more than anything, it has to do with the fact of what resturante managers "percieve" their customers want....

Donald said...

anony-mouse:
I think the answer lies in my "beer culture" comment earlier. I just don't think restaurants are seeing the demand for good craft beers with fine food.

I think an interesting trial would be for one of the better spots in town (Elements, Oakley's, Meridian, etc) to have a beer dinner where good beer is paired with each course much like a wine dinner. Or maybe sponsor beer tastings much like wine tastings. If they see a good turnout it might prompt more promotion with their menus. These are quite common in cities like Portland or Seattle where there's an appreciation for good brew.

Anyone dare take a chance?

CorrND said...

Donald -- Excellent idea about the trial. Rock Bottom isn't exactly in the same class as those restaurants, but they do host a quarterly beer dinner -- four courses paired with four beers -- that's very well attended. At the very least, it's an indication that there's a market for such a thing. I for one would be very interested in attending a "high class" beer dinner.

Neal said...

Consider it Done. As my comments on Beer geek state, I'm a wine guy...but maybe the winds of change will blow a little harder after this conversation. I will put together a date and forward it to brain girl.

And anony-mouse, I will tell you from experience, that you are DEAD ON. It is a restauranteurs perception of his/her guests' needs that sway the purchasing decisions. However, any savvy business owner listens very carefully to his/her market.

We have made significant alterations to our beer list as a direct result from guest feedback. Trust me, Stone IPA is absolutely not my cup of beer, but enough people have requested this style and therefore we carry it. Great dialogue here.

I will gladly do my part if you will!

Donald said...

Neal

That is awesome! For some stupid reason I've never gotten around to trying your place (sorry, I've been meaning to) but now I have to go!

I'm looking forward to it.

braingirl said...

Additionally, I was at Meridan for dinner last night and mentioned this conversation to Dan Dunville. From his recitation, they have a good craft beer list as well -- it included the Delerium Tremens, anyway.

However, it's not up on their website. So, ask there as well.

peter said...

One poster said: "So wait a minute. Craft beer doesn't have a wide enough appeal for fine dining establishments to bother offering it, but they go to great lengths to offer foods which many people don't like or won't try (foie gras, pates, etc.). And those food offerings will most assuredly spoil, while a quality beer will age well unopened, just like a bottle of wine."

While I'm more of a wine drinker like neal, I definitely have no restaurant management experience either. But the little I do know about the business is that a smaller, independent place probably cannot buy expensive craft beers in larger quantities (as they might do with wines) and keep them around as inventory. The "aging" issue is probably much less important than the fact that they need to sell the stuff to customers.

I dunno. I could be wrong.

One other thing: Some of the beer drinkers around here might just need to try some new places. You might be surprised at the beer lists at some restaurants, "fine" dining or otherwise. Perhaps the upcoming restaurant week would be a good chance to try a new downtown spot.

P.S. Do some area restaurants allow you to bring your own beer, just like some places let you bring a bottle of wine and then open it for you for a small cork fee? If so, why not try it? I do it occasionally with wine and am happy to do so with whatever bottle I grab out of my basement stash.

braingirl said...

(re: corkage)It's actually illegal in Indiana for anyone to bring wine in the front door of restaurants. Has been for a long time. Many restaurants have looked the other way and also (without knowledge) encourage it, but there were a few crackdowns and most better restaurants politely say "no" when you ask to bring your own wine, these days.)

Neal said...

As promised, we are going to ink the Inaugural Indiana Craft Brew & Food Symposium (lol) on Feb. 27th. Ted Miller has agreed to attend and I am going to try to talk Kevin Mataluchi (sp?) into coming as well. If anyone has any other suggestions for people to invite to speak on the subject of Beer & Food, just let me know.
I will get the details of the event to all of you as soon as I know them.
Reservations can be made by calling us at L'ex.

braingirl said...

Neal -- can you say more about what you're planning? A sit down dinner with courses? And what do you think the price will be?

Neal said...

I won't know a cost for the dinner until I have a menu, Ted and I are meeting early next week and I will have details then...

Rodney said...

In regards to peter's comment, I'm going to offer up this observation.

If a nicer restaurant (for the sake of argument, let's say $30+ an entree) provides you with a 6 page wine list and makes no mention of beer, the odds are generally that they have Budweiser or Miller on tap. This has at least been my general experience. Questions about available beers are also often answered with blank stares.

I think if a restaurant can maintain a multiple-page menu of wines, the least they could do is also list the beers available. Something nice they could do is actually have beers available that can be paired with the menu items. St. Elmo's / Harry and Izzy's is a good example. Goose Island 312 is a nice summer wheat to have on tap, but when your choices are that, Stella or Budweiser, none of it is going to match a steak.

I can honestly say that when I'm looking at menus online for restaurants I haven't been to, I always check for the beer selection. Rarely do I find one, online or in the restaurant itself. I'm sure I'm not alone there among beer geeks. I think for a lot of us, a nice beer list is exactly what we need to move from "that sounds pretty good" to "let's go."