Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Makes it a Review?

There are brilliant beer, food, and restaurant reviews out there on our internets. For example, check here and here.

I have an issue, though. As a reader, I tend to read the first couple of sentences and then jump to the punchline. As a writer, I'm the same way, and I'm unlikely to change. Here's what you'll get at this blog: a two-three sentence description, and then a suggestion (go there/don't go there). That prevents my eyes from glazing over and your head from itching. If you want excessive details, though, they can be found. But you may have to switch internets.

So these reviews are quick, but should not be construed as a slight in any way:

1. Prost! International Tap Room: beautiful beer selection; lovely space with a fantastic bar; a somewhat confusing second room with an almost disco feel; I ate the sausages--they were great; the folks are still working out the kinks but they will; a great addition to the Portland scene.

2. The Grill Room: what a fantastic space!; love the silver bull hanging outside; can't wait to "really" eat there (I had a delicious steak salad lunch); the 12 beers on tap are a little disappointing in that they are fairly pedestrian; Chef Harding Smith is a big flavor advocate--the philosophy doesn't extend to the beer list.

3. Vignola: ignore the snooty barmaid and belly up to the beautiful bar and order a bottle of Curieux, comparatively under priced at $18 (psst--it's $17 at the Hanaford's); if you are hungry, order a margarita pizza; this is bargain dining in a lovely restaurant.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Meanwhile, Back to Beer

When one is a committed locavore, temptations abound: The sophisticated Europeans, the sexy Scandinavians, the festive Mexicans, the cultured cluster of Canadians, the cheap Chinese, and, of course, the free-spirited left coasters. The granola crunching Vermonters are off limits. Even the real stuff from Bar Harbor is out of local. I paced the bar and ogled the stock. Three times. And then I sat down and ordered a 420 IPA. I sipped it, deeply. I ordered again. An Allagesh Dubbel this time. Again the sipping. Twice this time--I'd slowed down--before setting my empty glass down. A calmness returned. My third and final beer, another Dubbel, went down smooth and easy. I'd gone in to the belly of the beast, Portland's newest beer bar, Prost! International Tap Room, and survived with local morals and ethics intact.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Traveling Violations

I was on the road again last week, and I fell out of locavore. I will report and await my punishment. First, a triumph of sorts, however. The highly regarded and award-winning Beer Haiku Daily selected my passing of the beer season lament as the May 28 daily haiku. You can read it here.

I was in Clark, New Jersey and opted for Brooklyn lager to wash down my pizza. Unfortunately, Brooklyn seems to be brewed in Utica, if one trusts the fine print.

On the weekend, I searched for ramen, and found two decent shops: Minca, in the East Village; and Ippudo, near Astor Place. I drank Japanese beer at both spots. In the West Village, I went to a nice little izakaya called Rockmeisha. There I drank Japanese beer but could not resist the temptation of their strange non-Japanese offering, Frank Zappa Lumpy Gravy, a malty Brown Ale from Lagunitas.