Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Of Fascinating Depths and Delicious Heights

By Kurt Epps, The PubScout

At Delicious Heights, the menus are lit. The tap handles on the "Maya Bridges" are lit. And, if you're not careful with beers like Delirium Tremens and Mad Elf, you will be, too.

On the word of fellow biker and beer-lover Larry Deahl, I made the short trek to the three-month-old Bedminster pub and restaurant for a thorough review. Formerly known as Willie's Tavern, this 1780 structure (with a horse supposedly buried somewhere out back) was thoroughly gutted and refurbished in fine fashion by Alex Rubinstein along with co-owners Dominic and Ralph Acquaviva. It's the second Delicious Heights in the area, with the first one having opened in Berkeley Heights on the day the Giants won their last Super Bowl. While the original Heights may have produced a learning curve, it's clear that curve was instructive, as the Bedminster facility is running on all eight cylinders and is rather fabulous in many areas, not the least of which is the beer offerings.

Managing those offerings is a former record store employee turned crackerjack beerman named Jason Turon. With a sound beer knowledge, a very winning personality and a seemingly endless supply of energy and good humor, Turon keeps the twenty-four drafts lines humming, pumped, as they are, through a system known as a Maya Bridge. Said device circulates glycol through all taps and that means probably the coldest beer you can get on draft in NJ. So efficient is the system that any beer less than 4.6%--which means all "light" beers-- cannot be tapped as they would freeze. The Guinness line, therefore, has a special device surrounding it which allows it to flow freely. There's even an "ice rail" that separates the bar drinking area from the servers which allows quaffers to keep their beer cold. One of those servers, the sultry Sarah can be seen posing with her favorite PubScout in the pics on the right hand side.

Cold beer has its devotees, for sure, especially in the summer months, but what about the plethora of Winter Warmers on draft, like Sam Adams Winter Lager, Mad Elf, Celebrator, Brooklyn, Smuttynose and Anchor OSA that must pass through the lines? "There's not much we can do about that, except to pour them and let them warm up a bit," said Turon. And warm up, they do, especially when the beer drinker can pause to order some of the best food you can find in any NJ restaurant while chatting with a very friendly and very comely serving staff. Take Denise (in the pics), for example. Two kitchens run 24/7 to keep up with the demand for this high quality/medium-priced fare. I had a Panko Shrimp appetizer that came with five huge Panko-encrusted shrimp and dipping sauce for just $12. The missus gave her Panko Shrimp Salad a hearty thumbs up, not being able to converse with her mouth full. The Guacamole was fresh-made and the chips used to scoop it were still warm.

The clientele at Delicious Heights is as varied as its beer list. Twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, heck all the way up to geezers like The PubScout pack the place, which Jason says, "…is crazy on the weekends." Not hard to see why.

But what you're not likely to see is the "Depths" of Delicious Heights. Jason took The PubScout and two thirty-something stunners in his party—Susan and Brooke—on a tour of the bowels of the place to see the engines that keep the place running smoothly. Wells Banana Bread Beer and selections from Innis and Gunn were patiently waiting their call to duty upstairs. There was even a crate of Infinium in the queue. If you have to ask, google that baby. Fascinating to me was the main beam of the Revolutionary War era house which was a large, wide and long tree trunk set in place to, well, hold up the place. Inasmuch as my own home has the keel of a last-century sailing ship as its main beam, I found the tour quite fascinating.

Appealing to the eye, palate and ear, dotted with flatscreens and actually somewhat labyrinthine in layout, Delicious Heights will not disappoint. There's even a separate bar room in the back just for those who prefer liquid sustenance.

Turon allowed that his beer lines are cleaned every 28 days and his beers are rotated frequently to keep up with the demands of that eclectic clientele. Constantly searching for new beers to offer, Turon abides by the message of the small tattoo on his right forearm which reads, "Stop Wasting Time."

Apparently the whole operation abides by it as well, because in just three months, Delicious Heights has been on fire, not waiting for another Giants Super Bowl win. Its ample parking lot is almost always full. You can't make a reservation here, but you should have no problem getting a seat or a table, as the place is quite large.

Bottom line is that if you like good beer, good food, friendly staff and an exceptional ambience, put Delicious Heights of Bedminster on your must-visit list, and tell them The PubScout sent you.

Even those credentials however, will probably not get you the "Depths Tour." But you can take it by seeing the You-Tube videos that yours truly was kind enough to upload here.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

The PubScout

No comments: