Beer Bistro is located at the great location of 18 King Street East; basically King and Yonge. The schtick is that they have an extensive beer menu (as the name suggests) and recommend pairings with each menu item. The crowd is largely young business types; it can get very busy on any given day with the after-work crowd.
We started off with a “Christmas beer” for my date, and *ahem*…..wine for me. I’ll admit; I’m not a huge beer drinker. I know I know. At Beer Bistro it seems fairly unacceptable to have wine. What can I say.
The Christmas beer was no longer on the menu, however our server suggested it when my date said he wished he could have a maple syrup beer. Apparently this beer had notes of anise, cherry, and maple. To me, it only had notes of…bitter. And yeast. But my date loved it.
My wine. It was…mediocre. However I’ll try to reserve my judgement of wine at a beer restaurant.
To start we decided to go with lamb sticky ribs. Although I was *very* curious about the horse steak tartare. My date…not so much.
It’s indicated on the menu that they are “smoked tender with coffee porter and molasses”
These were fall apart tender. You could really taste the smoke, however (and I’m being a bit picky because they *were* delicious) you couldn’t really taste the coffee or the molasses. Nor were they exactly sticky. Also; (again; picky) I have a problem with completely superfluous additions to the plate that don’t serve a purpose other than garnish. Case in point: this grilled lime. Interesting? Sure. However when you actually add it to a rib it adds nothing but an unpleasant bitter taste.
For our main meals, I chose the Autumn Ricotta Pasta. “Heirloom carrot, celery root and parsnip julienne, broccolini, tomatoes, belgian ale, whole wheat spaghetti and basil pesto – $16.59”
The pasta was perfectly cooked and the whole wheat was a good choice; the nutty flavor held up to the ricotta. Also, the vegetables were crisp tender. However, overall the dish was a little bland; could have used more salt and another interesting depth of flavor. Even something as simple as sauteed pancetta.
My date chose to have the Gourmet Dog. “Featured homemade frankfurter sausage with accompaniments. Onion and multigrain beer-bun – $12.75”
So on that particular evening the gourmet dog consisted of a take on the chicken club: the sausage was chicken and bacon, and the toppings were tomato, lettuce, pickle, and mayonnaise. On the side is a mayo-based coleslaw.
So, the actual sausage was pretty good. The bun was a great choice; it stood up really well to all the toppings without being too hard. There was a little too much mayo, and I felt like the whole sandwich could have used some zip. Maybe a garlic/lemon aioli? There was a lack of seasoning overall; note that the tomatoes aren’t seasoned. I’m partial to a vinegar based coleslaw in general, however in this case the mayo-based coleslaw was a poor choice and it was a tad bland. Mayo overload. My date said he would have been happier with just a tangy side salad instead.
Here was my date’s choice for his 2nd beer: I just had round 2 of the same wine. He raved about this one.
Random wall art
For dessert we decided to go with the dessert platter for two. Basically a chef’s selection of whatever is on hand that day.
Ok so here we have an orange creme brulee. It had that trademark I’m-eating-a-great-creme-brulee crack when you tap it with your spoon. Perfect crust. The texture also had a very creamy, well executed consistency. However the flavor of the orange was completely overpowering and slightly bitter. Shame.
Next we had a bourbon vanilla icecream. Unfortunately again the bourbon flavor was completely overpowering and actually unpleasant. I couldn’t taste vanilla at all.
Next was a rocky road ice cream sandwich. The vanilla ice cream in the middle was yummy, however the cookie was almost impossible to break apart with a spoon (or even with a caveman-spearing motion with your fork). It tasted good, but honestly the effort was not worth the reward. I almost wonder if the chef had never actually tried to eat one him/herself.
Next we have chocolate and raspberry mousse. The raspberry was very light, airy, and refreshing. Delicious! The dark chocolate mousse was just *slightly* too bitter. I’m a huge fan of very dark chocolate and regularly snack on 85%…however this just needed a touch of sugar.
Finally we had the beer-skor bar icecream. Now *this* was great. You could really taste the beer however it was utterly delicious somehow in ice cream. There wasn’t too much skor or too little. Really they should just stick with making beer ice creams and skip the bourbon/rocky road.
So, overall the highlight of the meal were the ribs for appetizer. The dessert was the most poorly executed course. The total bill (without tip) came to $101.06. The atmosphere was nice, and the server was very knowledgeable (and extremely tolerant of us taking pictures in a crowded restaurant :P). Is it somewhere I would go back to? Yeah probably, for a late-night meet-up with friends for a drink and an appetizer. It’s open until 2am Thursday-Saturday and is in a prime location of Toronto. Would I recommend it to any foodie friends with discerning palates? Probably not.