Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Seasonal Beer Delights

The best place to enjoy a pint of thick frothy draught beer; specifically a dry stout, perhaps a pale lager, maybe even a dark ale? Why, an Irish Pub of course! From Guinness, to Harp, to Smithwick's, respectively, these winter warmer brews which hale from the great country of Ireland were paired with a four course meal of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients at The Lansdowne Pub. Located directly across from Fenway Park at 9 Lansdowne Street, this typically rowdy Pub with a reputation for chaos and rif raff was pleasantly subdued on a Monday evening. The expansive interior is tastefully designed in true Irish Pub fashion. They manage to make it feel cozy and inviting, despite the vast space. Adam and I attended this Seasonal Beer Dinner - priced at a reasonable $40 with Megan, Jen and her husband Carlos, and Meghan and her husband Eric.Upon arrival we were given a ticket for a mini pint of Guinness at the bar. Classic Gaelic sayings line the wood panels overhead. Eric translated this one for us, which means "Beer and Whiskey".A mini pint was the ideal way to kick off the evening. We introduced significant others and mingled at the refined wood bar before choosing our seats at the the community style tables.
They were set in advance, reading and waiting for diners to fill in.
Malcom Patterson, a representative for Guinness since 1994, took the stage with a microphone to announce each course and provide tasting and pairing notes. To truly understand the connection between the beer and the food, the whys and hows, is a much appreciated talking point. The gesture makes you feel like you are a part of an experience, not just a person with a ticket for a meal.
First course: Oven Roasted Duxbury Oysters with Candied Fennel
Beer Pairing: Guinness
A dry Irish stout with a smooth creamy head and silky ruby red body (appearing jet black or deep brown at times, the true color - hold it up to the light, is red) lends aromas of coffee, chocolate, toast and caramel. The infamous Dublin pint is brewed with generous hops and roasted and malted barley for a bittersweet balance and intense-flavored natural bite. Guinness was smartly paired with our first course. Two oysters on the half shell were coated in a garlic herb bread crumb and baked until golden brown, topped with candied fennel and plated over a bed of pickled cabbage. The sweetness lent from the malted barley in the Guinness as well the dry finish from the hops served to balance out the salty oysters. The delicately sweet candied fennel was an exciting topping which also served to compliment the slippery oven roasted bivalves. Unfortunately, not all the oysters served came topped with the glistening diced gems of fennel. This was likely an easy oversight in a kitchen full of plates, but a disappointment to my fellow diners none the less. The candied fennel truly impressed me, so I was bummed others missed out on the experience of the oysters as they were intended.
Second course: Roasted Winter Squash, Native Blue Cheese, Spiced Walnuts
Beer Pairing: Harp
Harp pours a clear golden-amber color with a frothy head. A light mouth feel, one may be able to detect malty flavors of green apple and pear that mingle with hints of lemon. The intensely sweet winter squash, tossed with fresh herbs, olive oil and seasoning and roasted until tender welcomes the pairing of a clean light bodied lager. Topped with locally made blue cheese, its sharpness undeniably pleasing as it mingled in the balsamic infused brown butter and melted over the soft wedges of the fleshy orange vegetable. The final touch of roasted walnuts, deep brown and generously scattered about the place, hit the palate with a spiced cayenne pepper zing. Harp lager finishes crisp and refreshing, with notes of biscuit, which serve to compliment the spice.
Third course: Braised Veal Breast, Herb Spatzel, Glazed Turnips & Local Greens
Beer Pairing: Smithwick's
Smithwick's is a deep chestnut brown ale with Irish heritage that is even older than Guinness. Malcom went on to explain that the beer has been recognized globally, winning numerous awards in best quality categories. A gentle balance of bitterness due to the hops being added later in the brewing process give way to flavors of roasted coffee and a sweet caramel finish. Smithwick's unique taste compliments the veal breast which is stuffed with wild mushrooms and paired with purple top turnips and local braised greens. My first time experiencing braised veal; while it was tender and flavorful it didn't yield that fall apart to the touch tenderness. I found myself cutting vigorously through at certain points to enjoy a bite. Veal is typically not my meat of choice and while it is encouraging to branch out, I think last nights diner affirmed that. Adam on the other hand, who thoroughly enjoys veal (often orders veal parm when we go out for Italian) loved the braised cut and cleaned his plate. Despite my love lacking in the veal department, the entree delivered in other areas. The thinly sliced circles of glazed turnip were cooked well and the toothsome spatzel made with fresh herbs was equally appealing. Smithwick's didn't overpower the strong flavors in this meal, rather it stuck a harmonious balance with the hearty vegetables, pasta and meat.
Fourth Course: Guinness Float
The third and final mini pint of Guinness, this time was poured over freshly made butterscotch ice cream. The creamy Guinness didn't easily mingle with the icy scoop of butterscotch ice cream, and we quickly realized that stirring the two together provided for the desired level of sweetness. The bitter flavors of the Guinness then faded into the background and the creamy melted butterscotch took center stage.
I understand the timing of multiple courses for large parties is tough to master! (Top Chef anyone?!) and while this wasn't flawless at every turn, overall it didn't take away from the quality of the dining experience. Everyone loved the food and the mini pints of beer, which ended up being the just the right amount for sipping without leaving one too full for the next course. I was delighted to finally check out what The Lansdowne Pub had to offer. It was clear the chef worked very hard to prepare a menu with seasonal local ingredients for such a large crowd and my many compliments are due. The pairing of beers with each course were remarkably well thought out. This Monday night dinner that was both informative and appetizing, with fun company to boot, kicked of the second week of 2011 in great form.
Lansdowne Pub on Urbanspoon


  1. that sounds like a fun night and 40 bucks is way reasonable. Oh and how tasty is Smithwick's? Its one of my favorite beers

  2. I wish even more that I had gotten some candied fennel now seeing your pictures of it! The dinner was fun, and I feel like we learned a lot about Guinness. It was fun meeting Adam and hanging out. Love the mini pints!

  3. Ohh those are some nice looking beers!!

  4. I really like the Landsdowne! It's such a fun place on weekends.

    That float sounds amazing!

  5. I loved my oysters, but I am sure they would be even better with the fennel! I was actaully thinking about them today; there may be a kitchen recreation in the near future!

  6. That Guinness Float looks delish! Yummy winter food, mmm! Have you been to Highland Kitchen in Somerville?

  7. I am so jealous of how good your pics with flash are. Also, squash-want.

  8. What a cool menu, I'd especially love to try that float!

  9. I had no idea they had such great food there. I'm going to have to dine there sometime!

  10. I really like the Lansdowne Pub a lot! Bret threw me a birthday party there last year in the private back room and the bartenders and food were both fantastic!

  11. Um, can we talk about the houndstooth fingernails?! I need a follow-up post on those! So cute!

  12. Ok sweetie, give me the scoop about Boston's weather right now... is it miserable? Are you still getting snow?

  13. did you have a guiness 'stash after your guinness float!? :)

  14. Great recap. It was great to see you the other night!