Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Brief Sermon on Eulogy

Let’s get one thing straight: I love beer. You should too. It’s a beverage as full of personality and subtle variation as the range of drinkers who enjoy it. Most people find beer (unlike its grapy counterpart) the most accessible libation out there. I’ve seen even the most stalwart of my friends quiver at a wine list, but you can be sure there’s minimal anxiety associated with calling for a pitcher of Lager or staring the bartender in the eye and saying, “PBR me ASAP.”

And then there’s Eulogy. With 21 rotating draught beers and 300+ bottles from around the world, this Belgian-style eatery/beer emporium can be intimidating to your casual beer drinker. Ask my girlfriend, whose brew of choice is Miller Lite (and you can go to hell if you say you don’t like it. God. Bless. Wisconsin). She and I stared at the four pages of 10-point font beer menu, replete with serving size, origin, alcoholic content, and general type (e.g. lager, ale, etc.) for about 10 minutes before folding it up and asking for our server’s recommendation in terms of a lighter lager.

At this point my bullshit-o-meter starting buzzing. Our server, a nondescript dude who obviously enjoyed beer, stared at Elissa and asked, “What? You don’t know what you drink?” His incredulity and what I’ll term Bourgeois Beer Scorn (BBS from here) were palpable, and E and I rolled our eyes in unison as he skulked away. Needless to say, we were unimpressed, and the initial BBS made us a bit wary of the waiter for the remainder of the evening.

E settled on a full-bodied framboise, which normally I wouldn’t pick for fear of BBS from some of my hop-heavy buddies. It was, however, thick with flavor but still light enough to drink without feeling heavy, not at all syrupy, and darkly ruby in color. As I am a secret fan of fruity brews, the raspberry won me over immediately, and I took more than my fair share of boyfriend sips. I opted for a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (pretty self-explanatory – it was dark, chocolaty, and I find it more sip-friendly than Guiness, which I find is best for breakfast or pounding alongside Bailey’s and whiskey). Geoff went for Skullsplitter (a heady [no pun intended] Scottish brew that will knock your socks off and is generally only sold in four-packs for obvious reasons). The other people at the table also had some delicious beers, but I can’t remember them exactly (the beers, that is, I remember the people quite well) and I’m not a food critic.

To start, we shared a brie-filled crusty puff pastry drizzled in a raspberry glaze and surrounded by slices of apple and various berries (the aptly named Brie Puff). It was yummy, but I wouldn’t say I’d camp out in front of Eulogy to eat it for breakfast today or anything. A quick aside: having a lactose-intolerant girlfriend reduces the amount of cheesy goodness stolen from one’s plate. I highly recommend it.

Eulogy and its sister restaurant, Monk’s, are known in Philly as THE places to get steaming pots of the best beer-soaked (among about ten different preparations) mussels that rest in big-as-your-palm-unless-you-have-ridiculously-large-hands shells in town. Julie and Bridget shared a pound of the beer mussels (Hoegaarden, garlic and shallots,, celery, onions, peppers, fresh herb mix and butter) and some of Eulogy’s signature Flemish Belgian-style frietjes (read: fries…and they really weren’t all that wicked awesome). Geoff and Todd had the Dijon mussels, which were spicy enough to cut some of the briny mussel taste but not so mustardy that they overwhelmed the natural piquancy of the shiny onyx bivalve.

E and I went the carnivorous route, ordering the steak sandwich and what is hailed as The Best Burger in Philadelphia, respectively. The steak was good, a sort of dressed-up cheesesteak with roasted peppers, fried onions, and cheese on a baguette. Good, but not worth shooting a man in Reno. Same for the burger, which was pompously overtitled the Beneluxx Napoleon Burger. I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my time, and it takes a lot to impress me. First, their topping offerings were scant – standard cheeses (except for Gruyere and blue, which aren’t even that exotic), the usual bacon, mushrooms, etc. The only unexpected inclusions were leeks and Ardenne ham, which seemed more like a perfunctory nod to real cuisine than anything, and I’m not sure 50 cents worth of leeks would have helped me attain culinary Nirvana.

All in all, I’m pretty sure our crappy interaction with the server colored some of my impression of the meal itself. For the most part, however, I think the food was pretty standard. Everything was good, don’t get me wrong, but nothing stood out as amazing. I recommend going to Eulogy and Monk’s for the beer and munching on mussels, frites, and other shareables as complements to the stunning (albeit slightly overwhelming) menu of brews.

Eulogy Belgian Tavern
136 Chestnut St.
Old City, Philadelphia
(215) 413-1918
http://www.eulogybar.com

5 comments:

jsa said...

I enjoyed Monks, but my servers wasn't an asshole. I guess that helps. The mussels are freakishly large. Sort of like yours, Drew...

ay said...

Wild. I love Monk's somewhere off Market over by the stock exchange. I'll have to go crosstown and try Eulogy next time through..

David said...

I especially like the thought that whatever it was "wasn't worth shooting a man in Reno." It is the beginning of a poem and I can already feel the spirit moving. UnklD

Marlier said...

I heard the rather disturbing news recently that the Young's brewery is going to be shut down for the next couple of years, while they apparently move it somewhere else. (More here: http://www.beer-pages.com/protz/news/youngs.htm).

At the moment, they're not producing any more of the Double Chocolate Stout, and if my beer-bar-owning buddy Max (of Deep Ellum Bar in Boston) has it right, it'll be well into 2008 before there's more of it around.

Which sucks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, ate at Eulogy last night and it was Fantastic! Beers and Mussels rock