Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Westside Local

John and I had lunch at the Westside Local yesterday to check out their food and beer selection. The place is brand new, having opened last Wednesday (7/15).

The owner, Troy McEvers, is a local himself and clearly has an interest in highlighting regional and house-made foodstuff. From the house-made pickles, kraut, and charcuterie to locally-sourced meats, the menu clearly demonstrates a high level of attention to the food and its sources. The executive chef, Rick Martin, clearly has a passion for both beer and food. He spent 17 years at Free State in Lawrence and has spoken about food & beer at the Great American Beer Festival, Savor, and the Craft Brewers Conference (check out part of the keynote address from this year's conference)

We walked into the Local, where we could see all of the 20 or so tables in the dining area, but chose to sat outside in the beer garden. We walked through the small but well-stocked bar area and out to the garden. There are 5 long fest-style tables with benches outside, covered by what will become a large ceiling of grape vines.

We were handed food, beer, and wine menus and the selections for each are thoughtful and varied. The service was quick and attentive, and we ordered the charcuterie and pickles with two beers; John got the 1809 Berliner Weisse and I ordered a bottle of Ayinger Bräu-Weisse. The menu contains beer recommendations for each food item, highlighting chef Martin's expertise. Yes, we did ignore the beers paired with our food orders, but not without acknowledgement.

I can't say I've ever seen Berliner Weisse on any beer menu anywhere in the states, and wish I'd ordered it. John did let me sample it, though. I had it once in Berlin, back in 1995, and it tasted just like I remembered: a lightly fruity weizen flavor (significantly less banana & clove than its Hefeweizen brothers) and a tiny bit tart. Berliner Weisse is, as its name suggests, a style native to the Berlin area in Germany. It's a traditional wheat beer, but with a couple of key differences: it is brewed with a lactobacillus bacteria, added to provide the sourness, and typically contains around 2-3% ABV. Due to the sourness, it's typically served "red" or "green" - with a shot of raspberry or woodruff syrup - and with a straw.

The Westside served both our beers in tulips. If I had to come up with a complaint about the Woodside Local, incorrect glassware would be it. Mine should have been served in a weizen glass and John's in a goblet. Did it matter? No, not really. But with the level of detail and attention given to the food, beer, and pairings, it was a little surprising.

That, however, would be my only complaint. The bread on my Monana chicken sandwich was soft, the chicken moist and tender, and the homemade kraut light and crisp and not overly acidic (just the way it should be). The french fries were just barely on the oily side of perfect - crisp and rich with potato flavor with just a hint of garlic. John's roast beef sandwich was on a crunchy baguette with a flavorful malt (wort?) au jus that wasn't overly salty (a common problem I have with au jus sandwiches).

We'll definitely be back to sample more of the food and drink more of the beer. And so that I can get my own bottle of that light, tart Berliner Weisse.

pictures from the Westside Local's Facebook page

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