Seasonal Beer Dinner At The Lansdowne Pub
Earlier this week I was invited to a seasonal beer dinner at the Lansdowne Pub and given a complimentary ticket to the event. Luckily, Meghan and her husband, Jen and her husband, and Daisy and her boyfriend didn't mind paying the $40 ticket price to join me at the dinner. (I would have gotten a ticket for Jeff, but he's allergic to the first course and wouldn't have liked the second course, so it just wouldn't have been a great evening out for him.)
On Monday after work, Meghan and I met up with each other on the green line platform at Park Street and took the T over to Kenmore. In my five years of living in Boston, I had never taken the green line past Hynes before, so it was nice to have Meghan there for moral support! We got off the T, wandered down to Lansdowne Street, and found the Lansdowne Pub in the old Jake Ivory's spot. We thought the flashy lights on the sign outside were a little odd for an Irish pub but loved the straight-on view of the front of the building and the inside decor.
When we arrived, we got drink tickets good for a mini Guinness at the bar and found Daisy and Adam already seated at the bar, sampling their mini Guinnesses. And then Meghan located her husband. Soon after, Jen and her husband arrived, and we all sipped on Guinness and caught up with each other.
We eventually moseyed over to a table and settled in before dinner. The dinner had a slow start, but Malcolm Patterson, a representative from Guinness soon took the stage and started introducing our first food and beer pairing.
Our first pour was another mini Guinness, which Malcolm described as having a roasted aroma and flavors of coffee, chocolate, caramel, and toast. He then quizzed us and asked if we knew what color Guinness really is. Meghan's husband, who is from Ireland, knew the answer: red. And now, if you hold a glass of Guinness up to the light and look at it, you'll notice the beer that we always think of as having a dark brownish-black color really is red.
The Guinness was paired with oven-roasted Duxbury oysters on the half-shell, topped with garlic-herb bread crumbs, and candied fennel. (Unfortunately, my oysters were missing the candied fennel.) The flavors complemented each other and did not compete with or overpower each other. The oysters were cooked perfectly, and I enjoyed the garlicky bread crumbs.
Next up was a mini pour of Harp. Harp has a dark golden color and smells of green apple, pear, and lemon.
The crisp taste pairs well with anything spicy, so the chef paired this pour with roasted winter squash, native blue cheese, balsamic-infused brown butter, and roasted walnuts spiced with cayenne pepper.
This was my favorite course. Well, the food was. While I liked the Harp, it was my least favorite beer of the night. Hey, it had to compete with Guinness, which is one of my favorites. I loved the sharp blue cheese in this and the hint of spice from the walnuts, not to mention the squash, which was seasoned with herbs and olive oil.
Then it was time for the main course. The beer of choice? Smithwick's. Malcolm explained to us that Smithwick's is actually older than Guinness. The barley in Smithwick's is not roasted as much as that in Guinness so the Smithwick's ends up with more of a chestnut color. It has a caramel flavor, is sweet, and finishes well. It was chosen because it wouldn't overpower the veal planned for our main course.
The veal was not at all what I expected. It was described as a veal breast filled with a wild mushroom stuffing and braised until tender. What came out looked like a veal roulade. I'm not complaining at all; it was just different from what I had pictured.
The veal came with spaetzle, which I have been wanting to make for a while and hopefully will do soon. The spaetzle was herby and buttery and was the perfect complement to the tender veal. There were also some braised greens that I could have done without, and some lovely, glazed purple top turnips.
The dessert course was a Guinness float. Another mini pint of Guinness arrived, this time with a scoop of homemade butterscotch ice cream. I thought the concept was good, but the ice cream was really sweet, which made the Guinness seem really bitter. We all finally figured out that if we stirred the ice cream in, the whole drink got better. All of the guys decided they could have done without the ice cream in their beers.
A good time was had by all, and we left stuffed and feeling like we had gotten an adequate amount of beer even though we had been drinking mini pints all night.
I don't drink beer very often, but when I do, I usually go for Stella Artois, Guinness, Allagash White, or Sam Adams White Ale. I've also been hearing a lot about Pretty Things lately and am looking forward to trying it.
Are you a beer drinker? What are your favorites?