|The Beer Dinner Room|
Chef Steve Farley is the consummate pro. Along with Dave Hoffman and Artisan's, he still holds the NJ single beer dinner attendance record--115. But that number didn't start out that high. In fact, it bloomed yearly from rather modest beginnings, because once word gets out about well run--and fun-- beer and food pairings, attendance grows.
And that's where Steve is starting now in his new role as head chef at Molly Maguire's in Rumson. A very welcoming pub with a great selection of artisanal beer, it has a "back room" which is ideal for beer dinners. It also has what any good Irish pub should have--a "snug"--which is essentially a small room off the main bar designed for more intimate, serious conversation and quaffing.
Twenty beer and food lovers showed up to see if Farley actually knows what he's doing when it comes to beer and food.
They found out he does. You can check out the menu here.
Pairing his culinary creations with special beers from Jersey's Cricket Hill, he also introduced a new (to me, anyway) and most welcome platform--the four-course beer dinner. Most beer dinners deliver a five-course, or even six-course, platform, but the demands on the kitchen, floor staff and the customer's wallet increase as the courses do. Not to mention that so many chefs offer really huge portions which fill not only the belly but often the doggie bags. And when you are pairing those portions with beer not known for being "less filling," guests often wind up waddling out stuffed, sometimes, like yours truly requiring a day to recuperate.
Smaller courses mean a smaller cost, and that translates to less discomfort and more enjoyment for the guest, less hassle for the floor and kitchen staff--ergo Less is More. And everyone who paid just $40 for the event scored big time, in the PubScout's humble opinion.
|Steve Farley "ramps" it up...|
Farley did a good job in matching up the beers with his menu, too. The Jersey Devil Red Ale, despite its relatively high ABV (8.2%), seemed tailor-made for the wheat berries in Steve's first course. Likewise, the Hopnotic IPA worked well with Steve's huge, perfectly done "Viking" Scallops. The Lamb Loin entree was matched with American Reserve Brown Ale (which was one of the lightest colored browns I've ever seen). But the star of the show was Steve's Dessert, Irish Soda Bread pudding with a Maker's Mark Creme Anglaise and Cricket Hill's outstanding Bourbon Barrel Imperial Porter.
In all, the consensus of the folks at the table was very positive, with one offering a cryptic warning that "we're gonna need a bigger room" once word of this gets out.
That means more people, more plates and more prep.It will be interesting to see if the "Less is More" theory will still apply, but the smart money says Farley will handle it ably.
And The PubScout will surely visit Molly Maguire's again--for the beers, the ambiance and The Snug.
And, of course, to visit my buddy Steve.
Check out more photos here.