It's clear that the folks at Monk's Kettle care about beer. A cellar beneath the ground holds a treasure trove of unique and vintage beers. A staggering array of goblets and chalices makes us want to run away and pursue a career in glassblowing. The biblically proportioned beer list leaves us misty-eyed. With all the focus on beer, however, you might get distracted from the thoughtful menu of artfully prepared dishes meant to accompany your favorite beverage. Monk's Kettle's monthly beer dinner series is a strong reminder of the restaurant's dedication to sustainable, delicious food and the joys of beer and food pairing. The Monk's crew is also getting ready to open its second Mission eatery, the Abbot's Cellar.
The beer dinner series began under the able hand of chef Kevin Kroger, who has moved on to sell his wares under the Urban Chef moniker. His beer-infused savory dishes and sweet treats can be found at venues such as the New Taste Marketplace. The tradition has been carried on by Chef Adam Dulye, who got his start at the Food Pavilion of the Great American Beer Festival and at Savor, the country's premier beer and food pairing event.
This month, diners were treated to a five-course meal highlighting the beers of Great Divide Brewing, an award-winning Denver brewery whose beers are finally trickling into Bay Area distribution. At 40-some-odd seats, the dinner was intimate and educational. Dulye met guests between courses, detailing his inspirations for dishes and his methods of beer infusion. Certified Cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski also meandered through the crowd, describing how the beers were designed to work with the food and sharing knowledge of the brews that would satisfy any beer geek.
One of our favorite pairings was a Monte Cristo with Cowgirl Mt. Tam triple crème, house-cured lomo, and Alba Organics strawberries. Great Divide's effervescent Colette Saison served to cleanse the palate and cut the richness of the fried sandwich. Another showstopper was perfectly grilled San Francisco Bay salmon (caught fresh that morning) with caraway spaetzle and rye pickle remoulade. The rye and caraway were bolstered by Great Divide's Hoss Rye Lager, which smelled like freshly baked rye bread.
The Abbot's Cellar will be a 3,000-square-foot, 100-seat restaurant and is scheduled to open later this year. In the meantime, tide yourself over with a beer dinner at Monk's. We'll be penciling in a recurring monthly "carbonated learning experience" on our calendars.