By Kurt Epps--The PubScout
Chris Percello took over the brewing duties at Uno’s from Mike Sella a few months ago. But he “made his bones” last night.
It was Chris’s first attempt at what has become a treasured tradition at the Metuchen brewpub—the Uno’s Beer Dinner. Handled ably by Mike Sella and Co. for 14 years, Chris, knowing he had big shoes to fill, stepped up to the plate for his first real at-bat—and he went “yard.”
He had help, to be sure, and he’s the first to acknowledge it. From a history-making female duo in the kitchen, to Lenny and Alexis’ efficient and attentive waitstaff duties, to the presence of Chris’s own tutor—Die Biermeister Dave Hoffman, to the assistance of a blonde beauty named Natalie who made the knock-your-socks-off Scotch Ale ice cream, Chris’s support was solid.
It’s called a beer dinner for two reasons: the beer and the dinner. And in the dinner category, Chef Doreen De Paolo had some tough acts to follow herself. But the petite blonde with the perennial smile, along with female assistant Migna in the kitchen, put out dishes that were second to none—and judging by some comments—a new bar was set. Everything that came out was delicious, and the assembly of 39 ½ (Georgia counts for the half) proclaimed their approval with every course.
From Stephanie: “Love this salad, especially the cranberries.”
From Kurt Hoffman: “This pork is absolutely delicious. Bring me another lager.”
From Dave Hoffman: “I never thought pumpkin and shrimp would taste this good, but it’s “bangin!”
Also from Dave Hoffman: “Is there another one of these Scotch Ale ice creams?”
Which brings us to the beer. The standard practice is to have three Uno’s beers and three guest beers, and having Climax beers pretty much assures success. But Chris’s own interpretations of the Uno’s classics (the IPA and the Scotch Ale), stood on their own merit, as did his own, relatively new, creation of a dark lager which accompanied some incredible cheese steak rolls. Climax was represented by three beers which have earned worldwide, national and statewide recognition: Climax E.S.B., Nut Brown and Helles, in that order. But Dave Hoffman, playing Santa, brought a special gift in the form of his exclusive Bavarian Dark Lager, available only in three places in the metro area—NY (Brooklyn), NJ (Jersey City) and PA (Philadelphia). Malty, “Munich-y” and with a nose that had some guests swooning, it was a delightful and delicious surprise.
Of course, when you hit a home run in your first at-bat, people expect you to do it every time. But because there are more variables you can control, it’s a lot easier in brewpubs than in baseball, where just a hit every three at-bats is considered excellent.
Ah, the pressure of greatness.
Check out the pics above right to see some of the night’s action.