What do you get when you take one of my favorite restaurants in CLE and pair it with a fabulous local brewery? One fantastic evening of food and drink!
On Monday night, CLEguy and I attended the Fathead’s Brewery beer dinner at Lolita Bistro. We became hooked on beer dinners at Bar Symon, where they held monthly beer dinners on Monday nights (I had a gold star for perfect attendance up until November). Matthew Harlan, the former executive chef at Bar Symon and current general manager at Lolita, decided to keep the beer dinners going at Lolita. This location was perfect for our feast – an intimate, relaxed atmosphere, plus the restaurant is closed on Mondays, so we had the place all to ourselves.
Our first course was “Bar Snacks” paired with Fathead’s Starlight Lager, a German-style Helles Lager. The Starlight Lager is bright and crisp, with great drinkability. Our bar snacks included cured Italian meats with crostini, sweet and creamy seafood dip with pretzels, and a cajun and cheese popcorn that rivals the balsamic popcorn at Crop Bisto for my new favorite snack.
Our next course featured Fathead’s Bumbleberry Honey Blueberry Ale. The beer uses local Olmsted Falls honey and tart blueberries, for a light, refreshing drink perfect for summer sipping. At the brewery, they serve this beer with fresh blueberries in the glass…yum! For our food this course, we had a Romaine salad with Lake Erie Creamery goat cheese, honey-herb dressing and pickled parsnips. Anything with goat cheese is a win in my book and the dressing and pickled parsnips added just the right amount of tang and crunch.
Our third course featured a duck terrine paired with Duke of Lager Fest Beer. The terrine included hazelnuts, raisins, arugula, and gingered cream. The texture of the terrine was perfect and the hazlenuts and raisins added great dimension to the dish. CLEguy’s favorite part of this course was the gingered cream and I would have to agree. The Duke of Lager Fest Beer features imported German hops and makes you want to get on the next plane for Oktoberfest.
Our fourth course had our mouths watering before it even reached our table. This course featured braised beef short ribs with Killibuck Valley mushrooms and leeks over dumplings, paired with Fathead’s Voodoo Monkey Chocolate Stout.
The short ribs were tender and juicy and the mushrooms and leeks added a wonderful earthy flavor. The jus from the short ribs literally made me want to lick my plate clean. And the dumplings…firm, yet fluffy…they were this Polish girl’s dream and I need to know how to make dumplings that amazing. The Voodoo Monkey Chocolate Stout was also a knockout. Featuring Belgian chocolate and imported vanilla, the beer is creamy, slightly sweet, and absolutely delicious.
Finally, it was time for dessert. As you may have seen me lamenting on Twitter, I gave up desserts for Lent. But, for blog purposes, I ate this dessert (the things I’ll do for you, dear readers). I was a little apprehensive when I saw we were having banana walnut bread pudding with spiced chocolate sauce. Bananas are not my favorite food in the least. But I would eat these bananas any day.
The bread pudding was moist and not too dense. The carmelized bananas were delicious (really). And the spiced chocolate sauce added just the right bit of chili sweet heat to the dish. This course was paired with Fathead’s Poseidon’s Punishment, a Belgian-style golden ale. I have never met a Belgian beer I didn’t like and this is no exception. The beer has the sweetness of honey paired with the spiciness of clove and is imminently drinkable. At a deceptive 10% alcohol content, though, I only indulged in one glass.
All in all, it was an evening of fabulous food, terrific beer, and great conversation. CLEguy and I met some great CLE-ers who are both beer and CLE enthusiasts in equal measure and spent a lot of time talking about our favorite CLE spots, especially in Tremont. Lolita’s executive chef Andy Strizak and general manager Matthew Harlan were gracious and entertaining hosts and the guys from Fathead’s were so knowledgeable and excited about their products. Can’t wait for the next one! Check out Lolita Bistro and Fathead’s – two of my favorite answers to “Why Cleveland?”