Monk's Kettle has been a gastropub since its inception. The biblically proportioned beer menu has served as a strong foundation to explore pairings with the upscale pub grub that emerged from the kitchen of departed chef Kevin Kroger. And while the Monk's menu has always steered diners to specific beer-style pairings, the restaurant rolled out a completely revamped menu this week that seeks to push its beer cuisine to the next level: by incorporating beer into the food itself.
This isn't as easy as pouring a can of High Life into the soup pot (it's okay ― we've all been there), since certain styles of beer can be tricky to cook with. (Quick public service announcement: Cooking down a hoppy brew can lead to the ultimate bitter beer face.) A chef must be intimately familiar with the flavor profiles of the beers she's using, and how to treat them without over-exaggerating the bitter, roasty, or sweet aspects of particular styles.
This is where new chef Adam Dulye is prepped to shine. Dulye's invitation to cook a paired beer dinner at James Beard House in New York was an acknowledgment of his skills. So far at Monk's, you can find Dulye experimenting with beer in a handful of new menu items:
• Elves on horseback, pale ale gastrique ($8)
• Mussels in Belgian ale with garlic, basil, and Acme levain ($12)
• Grilled leg of lamb with winter vegetable ragout and stout glaze ($24)
• Three-day-ale bricked chicken with cranberry beans and harissa ($19)
• Pan-roasted tilefish with lager-poached potato, celery root salad, and preserved lemon ($23)
Hopefully this willingness to inject beer's wide range of flavors into food will continue in the restaurant's regular series of beer-paired dinners. If you're into multitasking (read: playing with your food and your beer at the same time), head over to Monk's Kettle and soak up your dinner.
The Monk's Kettle: 3141 16th St. (at Albion), 865-9523.