Thursday, May 31, 2012

No regrets

Not one regret...but plenty of love.

Gypsy brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Ted Stelzenmuller, chef and co-owner of Jack's Bistro in Canton have come together to open one of my most favorite new bars in a long, long time - Of Love & Regret in Brewers Hill. 

Between the amazing beers (13 by Stillwater alone) and a smallish but carefully crafted food menu, they've created a fabulous, yet casual gathering spot. The place feels sorta European - tables close together, friendly servers and no televisions. 

The beer...that's what initially draws you to this place. I first learned about Brian and Stillwater from my friend Jed at The Wine Source. Stateside Saison and Cellar Door were the first ones I tried. Love them. And then, I tasted my favorite of his beers, Of Love & Regret. It's different...a little more aromatic with distinct flavors of herbs and spices. It's not always available...but when they do have it at The Wine Source, I grab a few bottles. Nice to have your favorite beer on hand, don't you think? Special treat.

So, as you can guess, at Of Love & Regret, you're not gonna see Miller Lite on the menu - you must know that going in. (And I'm all for it.) We each started with our own small draft - Cellar Door, Existent, Debutante and Kopstooje while we waited for our table for about 20 minutes (not bad at all for opening night.) Then with dinner, we shared a pitcher of Stateside Saison and a bottle of Our Side, the collaborative brew by Stillwater/Mikkeller. We loved them all. Be sure to try lots of different beers when you go!

And then there's the food. I had the Berber Burger - Moroccan spiced rubbed natural beef with goat cheese, wilted arugula, Moroccan tomato ketchup and sweet pickles. (See photo below...yum.) It is such a creative and tasty burger - way to go, Ted. One of my friends had the French Burger - brie cheese, brandy poached pear, grilled onions and bacon. other friend had what I think I might get when I go back, the Grilled Cheese - house smoked tomato, cheddar cheese, smoked gouda, brie and grilled scallions. I'm not always a fan of super fancy grilled cheese sammies, but this was ridiculously good. Also need to give a shout out for the fries - wide cut, soft inside, slightly crispy out. Perfect. We were told that the Smokey Burger should be on our list for next time - topped with slow roasted pulled pork, smoked gouda, smoked bacon and sweet & spicy pickles. Sold!

One appetizer I'd like to try next time: Crispy pig ears - grilled red peppers, grilled onions, lime, cilantro, jalapeno, poached egg and toasted garlic. Holy dirt.

So, go. Run, actually. Probably the best experience and meal I've had at such a new place. From the food to the service to the vibe - fantastic.

Congratulations, Brian, Ted and your hard-working staff. You did it.

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