Last night's beer dinner at Uno's Grill and brewery may have stumbled at the start, but it blew across the finish line in a blaze of glory.
New management at Uno's under Brian Cardinale was at first hesitant to continue with a beer dinner that had been planned for some weeks. Understandable that, considering he may have needed some time to learn the "beer dinner ropes." But after an early postponement announcement—which was rescinded almost immediately—the dinner was set back in motion.
Brought in by Uno's especially for this dinner, Chef Brian Aloia and Cardinale, both with considerable culinary expertise, set forth a very unusual menu theme for Uno's—Asian Fusion—which can often be difficult to match with complementary beers. But the menu wasn't the only thing new about this beer dinner. Yours truly has incorporated a video component to allow readers a chance to feel what the atmosphere was actually like during the event. If you want to be able to view the videos, simply send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Identify yourself, as email addresses don't always comport with real names. You'll be sent a special invitation to view the videos. You can see and download pics of the event in the top right hand corner of the blog.
The introductory course of cheeses, fruits and other condiments was paired with Brewer Mike Sella's new Rye beer, a nicely balanced, clean and not-overbearing brew which could probably accompany many foods well. Judging by the commentary, the pairing was well received by the 30 guests in attendance.
Next up was Brian's Bruschetta- Garlic scented toasted demi roll with fresh tomatoes, basil and diced mozzarella served with balsamic vinaigrette. It was paired with Mike's transitional Bootlegger Blonde.
The next course, though delicious, was a most difficult challenge beerwise, as it was composed of two completely different tastes: Short Rib Egg Rolls with Shrimp and Crab Rangoons- Boneless short ribs cooked to perfection and shredded with a touch of chianti and a sweet and sour sauce all wrapped in an egg roll. Creamy shrimp and crab with a touch of oregano and green onion wrapped, fried and served with an Asian dipping sauce. I paired it with Sam Adams Noble Pils and the company heartily approved.
The fourth course was a delightful shrimp appy: Sweet and Spicy Shrimp- Shrimp in a sweet habanera lime marinade grilled and served with udon noodles. We matched it up with Mike's Red, which just happened to be peaking in flavor, and the combination worked exceptionally well.
The main course was Peach Ginger Grilled Chicken- Chicken breast marinated with a ginger and peaches served with a crispy rice cake, diced peaches, warmed greens, and topped with a light teriyaki and fried rice noodles. I opted for another Pils, this time from a can. Sly Fox's Pikeland Pils worked like magic with this dish.
As always, we try to introduce our guests to beers they may not have had, and that practice continued with the dessert course. Quintessential server Lenny trundled out bottles of Anchor Porter (Joe Skelly gave his grudging approval, but registered his official notice that he awaited Mike's Porter ) to accompany Brian's dessert—which had no official name that I could find. But it was delicious nonetheless. A concoction which looked and tasted a bit like Bananas Foster bracketed by two dollops of wonderful Green Tea Ice Cream (Hey, Asian Fusion was the theme), sprinkled with cranberries (I think) and drizzled with some delightful sauce.
The usual upbeat camaraderie prevailed (see pictures above right), and when ex-barman Moshe was introduced, he received a rousing ovation. Moshe, who had served as chef extraordinaire for a few previous Uno's beer dinners, was most complimentary about the night's food.
Mike Sella will be hosting a Cask Ale event on March 27, and it's clear now that Uno's will be continuing its well-received beer dinner program.
Now, I'm not ordinarily an Asian Fusion type of guy. I'm not even a Ford Fusion type of guy. Steamed Dumplings and Shrimp Fried Rice on the same plate are about as Asian Fusion as I get. But I have to say that last night's food was both outstanding and beautifully presented.
Though there were some early anxieties about what Uno's new management would bring, those concerns were put to rest last night, because it's clear that at least one of things new management brings is an outstanding culinary pedigree.