Tom Corrigan, manager of Uno's Grill and Brewery on Rt. 1 in Metuchen, NJ should get some kind of recognition from Jersey beer nuts for his unfailing commitment to the craft. Here's a guy who for years has been waging a one-man battle with the corporate suits at Uno's to maintain a solid craft beer presence at his restaurant.
There are some 170 Uno's around the world and the only one with a brewery in it is the one in Metuchen. You might think that distinction would garner some special effort--if not recognition--for Corrigan and his head brewer Mike Sella, but I challenge you to find anything in the monthly or quarterly Uno's Newsletter that even acknowledges the existence of the brewpub.
Thankfully, enough of the Uno's brewpub faithful are fully aware that there is good stuff to be had here, and that's due to Corrigan's commitment and Sella's product. Some healthy numbers-about 24--turned out to sample Corrigan's menu magic and Sella's ever-evolving Seasonal Scotch Ale and legendary Porter. I was on hand to provide my usual contribution of lame jokes and half-witty repartée, and the dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by all despite my efforts.
A Mozzarella--wrapped prosciutto with special mustard was accompanied by Mike's solid 32-Inning Pale Ale. Corrigan then sent out Uno's Good Guy Lenny with trays of Pineapple-Orange Shrimp and Mango-Ginger Shrimp to be enjoyed with a classic wit known as Hoegaarden. The match was superb according to the assembly. Uno's piping hot French Onion soup appeared next, joined by Spaten Oktoberfest (hey, who said Oktoberfest beers can only be drunk in August?). Then a Mesclun Salad with Blackberry and Pomegranate dressing made its appearance, linked with Great Divide's (Rasp)Berry Ale.
These outstanding dishes, however, served only as a warmup to the star of the show entreé--a Cab Crusted Pepper Steak that was melt-in-your-mouth good. The steak was a clear hit with the crowd with nearly everyone exclaiming of its virtuous qualities. (Beer drinkers tend to exclaim as the night wears on.) Though everyone was pretty well full after the main course, most bit the bullet to find room for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae dessert, trundled out to ooh's and aah's--and Mike's Gust 'N' Gale Porter. That brew always brings a wide smile to the face of Uno's regular Joe Skelly, who will very likely one-day be firmly ensconced in the White House as an adviser, though probably not to a Republican president.
The evening concluded with a story of how angels became fixtures atop Christmas trees and a "12 days of Christmas" visual interpretation by 12 sated volunteers. Two lucky interpreters--five golden rings and eight maids a-milking-- walked home with growlers of Mike's brews. The rest of us walked out to the bar to extend the festivities.
The beer dinners--at $45 (less tip) are a bargain and a boon for both food and beer lovers. Maybe if enough of them e-mail Uno's website and say as much, Corrigan's and Sella's efforts may get some well deserved R & R.
As in Recognition--and Raises.