Artisan's "First" Fest another Winner
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
You sort of knew what kind of night it would be when the crowd burst into cheers, hoots and dogbarks because the tuba player blew his first warmup note of the night.
No doubt, this crowd was primed to rock and roll at what was Artisan's first-ever Oktoberfest Beer Dinner. Though it was technically Artisan's first (because the restaurant changed its name last year), it was the eighth for The Petes, Executive Chef Steve Farley and at least three of the Artisan Dirndl Beauties. And they just keep getting better. Some folks, either newbies or those obviously affected by the excellent beers, even said they heard a few new jokes.
From a first run of 55 Festers in 2002 to an overflow of 102 last night, this event may be the premier Oktoberfest dinner in NJ in terms of attendance. The Artisan Dirndl Beauties (who really make the night run smoothly), the Firehouse Polka Band (in fine form as usual) Brewmeister Dave Hoffman and Steve Farley combined their efforts to produce yet another memorable event. I even got to meet the delightful Kim, who keeps the Cook cooking.There were folks dancing in the aisles and at least twenty rousing choruses of Ein Prosit (though, truth be told, some of the guests had some trouble pronouncing Gemutlichkeit). Nobody, however, gave a damn.
Dave Hoffman's beers are legendary among the beer cognoscenti and these didn't disappoint. His O-fest is one of my personal favorites and the beer I usually start and finish the night with. But on his suggestion, I tried his Pumpkin Ale. Really good pumpkin ales are not easy to make, as pumpkin itself has little taste sans spices. The spices then become the flavor. Dave's had both. It was not the standard—and sometimes cloying--"pumpkin pie in a glass" version, but a hearty, very well balanced and extremely tasty brew—one that could easily be a winter session beer if you don't like Belgians and Stouts. 100 pounds of pumpkins will do that.
Steve Farley's food is equally storied, and this dinner showed why the guest list has doubled at Artisan's. My tablemate Brad's comment said it all: "This is really outstanding." Though he could have applied it to all the courses, he was speaking of the RINDFLEISCH KURZEN RIPPEN, BIER SOSSO, SPATZLE, APFELMUS ODER APFELBRI, PIKANTER KOHL,KARTOFFELPUFFER ODER REIBERDATSCHI
Or for you monolingual types, the SHORT RIBS W/BEER SAUCE, SPATZLE, HOMEMADE APPLE SAUCE, SWEET & SOUR RED CABBAGE, POTATO PANCAKES
Dave and sidekick Roger (with the help of a most comely lass viewable in the pictures) tapped a keg of Dave's Oktoberfest to accompany that main course and the matchup was excellent. In fact, all of them were, according to Brad and Beth, my tablemates who were polite enough not to steal the last shrimp, unlike the pirates across from me.
Many luminaries of the beer world were in the audience as well. Beer-Stained Letter creator Jeff Linkous sat at the same table with beer artist Gregg Hinlicky and chamois-wearing Bavarian icon Kurt Hoffman, father of the brewer.
Artisan's first/eighth Oktoberfest lived up to both its billing and its reputation. Kudos to The Petes for pulling off another rousing success. More importantly, these guys have always made quality a priority, and it clearly shows. Will they be building an addition onto Artisan's to house the next Fest? Maybe arrange for a live video feed of my buddies in the Firehouse Polka Band?
With giveaways, jokes, song, dance, gorgeous servers, great food and great beer what's not to like?
Besides Parkway traffic…
©Kurt Epps 2010 All rights reserved