Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Delightful Surprise at Verjus

The missus and I went out to dinner last night with our elderly, widowed neighbor across the street. She suggested one of her favorite restaurants in Maplewood, named Verjus, a pretty classy place specializing in contemporary French/New American cuisine. I'm a pub and tavern guy specializing in burgers and quesadillas, but we assented because we knew it would make her happy.

After sitting down and reading the beer menu, I realized it would also make me--and any other beer geek--happy. Turns out the owner/chef Charles Tutino is a devotee of craft beer, and especially craft beer that complements his food.

There were twenty beers on the menu this night, including one from Anchor that I'd never had--or even heard of: Anchor Humming Ale. I mean, a guy who knows enough about a hop called Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand to put a beer made with it on his menu gets my vote as a "Savvy Palate Guy."

The special seasonals were Dogtoberfest and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, but the main list was quite impressive: four from Anchor, two from Dogfish Head, two from Schneider, Jever Pilsner, Reissdorf Kolsch, Saison Dupont, Chimay Triple, Allagash White, Belhaven Scottish and non-alcoholic Einbecker rounded out the list. Three others, Amstel Light, Heineken and Heineken Light were also available for those so inclined. I opted for a Dogtoberfest, a multiple GABF medal winner, to start, and it did not disappoint.

Chef Tutino's food also testified to his abilities in the kitchen, and my Roast Peking Duck went wonderfully with my Belhaven Scottish Ale. The desserts at Verjus are works of art for both eye and palate, but at first I chose only the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin to fill that bill, thinking I'd be perfectly satisfied. But  co-owner/wife Jane Witkin--a Perth Amboy gal-- brought out a special Espresso-Creme Caramel that tested my resolve. Despite saying repeatedly, "Get thee behind me, Satan," the dessert deftly twisted my arm behind my back in such a painful way that I relented. It was a perfect pairing with the great Pumpkin.

Jim Koch of Sam Adams fame is fond of saying, "All beer is good; some beer is better." Thanks to guys like Chef Tutino, better beer is finding its way into better food places.

And that's a win for everyone who enjoys both.

The PubScout
(PS--Photoshop out those wine glasses, if you must.)

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