For many years, the South Bay was regarded as a dead zone for craft beer. When asking for an artisanal brew at the bar, most watering holes would offer the requisite Blue Moon or other faux-craft impersonator. As craft brewing continues its surge of Manifest Destiny throughout the state and country, the South Bay has become steadily "craftier." Great spots like The Refuge, Original Gravity Public House, Harry's Hofbrau, Good Karma, and Liquid Bread have been holding down the fort. To that list, we can now add Mountain View's Steins Beer Garden.
Upon first glance, you'll notice that Steins isn't your typical watering hole. As you approach, you'll notice a spacious patio area complete with glass-encased fireplace, upscale modern furniture, and a smattering of used wine barrels. The indoor space resembles an airplane hangar, with arched ceiling and long floor-space with large tables that run the length of the room and contribute to a German beer hall-esque feel. Rustic wooden booths and trim give the space a warm touch.
The beer list is split into house staples and rotating taps. The well-curated house list includes highlights such as Highwater Campfire Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin (served from a nitro tap), Allagash Curieux, and Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, which is widely regarded as one of the best wheat beers in the world. On the rotating tap side, we opted to try Highwater's new Hop Logic Double IPA, and Devil's Canyon Barrel Of Monkeys, a bruising 17% ABV barleywine aged in bourbon barrels. With 18 semi-permanent taps and 14 rotating, there's a beer for every palate on hand.
Chef Colby Reade heads up the kitchen crew, who churn out satisfying, home-spun takes on modern gastropub cuisine. From pickles made from his grandmother's recipe to fresh baked pretzels with house-made beer mustard, the food has a noticeably personal touch.
We recommend the house burger, with a hefty patty of dry-aged short rib, brisket, and sirloin served on a house-made brioche bun. Our favorite savory dish is the delightful Breakfast for Dinner. A perfectly cooked piece of smoked pork belly is adorned with a poached egg, frisee, maple dijon vinaigrette, and house-baked bread that rivals San Francisco's most popular bakeries. All of the breads in the restaurant are house-made, which certainly goes a long way. For dessert, we recommend the rich-yet-refreshing panna cotta with sour cherry compote, vanilla cream, and almond brittle.
Starting this week, the restaurant is rolling out a weekly 3-course prix fixe menu. This week's $35 "Pork of July" special will run through Sunday:
Pork Belly Potato Salad -- smoked garlic/herb sausage/grilled country white bread/whole grain mustard/pickles
Pork Stravaganza 3-Layer Sandwich (2.5 lbs!) -- smoked pork belly/poached egg/house made chorizo patty/pimento cheese/fried breaded pork cutlet/smoked chili aioli/pickled cabbage (check out a photo on Facebook)
Pork Gumbo (but seriously, did you read about that sammie?) -- smoked low country ham confit/house made andouille sausage/braised spiced pork belly/dirty rice cake/gumbo au jus/crispy fried okra
Bacon Berry Shortcake -- bacon infused biscuit/black pepper bacon dusted strawberries/sweet cream/strawberry sauce