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Brouwer’s Café


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I think it's going to be another pretty boy & girl singles hangout, like the Red Door.  Just what Fremont needs.

Mmm I don't know about that. This is one bar that is TRULY designed for beer geeks. Too bad they left food geeks out of the picture!

They always do leave food geeks out of the picture, though, right? What I mean is, how many places catering to beer geeks have really great food? And conversely, how many places catering to food geeks have really great beer? Is is because, unlike wine, beer is difficult to pair in any meaningful way with great food? Or is it also at least partly because beer is quite a bit harder to handle than wine---drinking it at exactly the right age is often crucial, the lines need to be cleaned, it needs to be stored in the dark and the cold, etc. Or maybe it's just beer's lowbrow reputation. I love both beer and wine, but I wish more food geeks had the chance to see how amazing a perfectly brewed beer, at just the right time in its life, can be. Most restauranteurs, if they venture into beer at all, are content to stay within a narrow circle of very conventional choices, which makes me kind of sad. It's a territory that's still mostly unexplored.

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They always do leave food geeks out of the picture, though, right?  What I mean is, how many places catering to beer geeks have really great food?  And conversely, how many places catering to food geeks have really great beer?  Is is because, unlike wine, beer is difficult to pair in any meaningful way with great food?  Or is it also at least partly because beer is quite a bit harder to handle than wine---drinking it at exactly the right age is often crucial, the lines need to be cleaned, it needs to be stored in the dark and the cold, etc.  Or maybe it's just beer's lowbrow reputation.  I love both beer and wine, but I wish more food geeks had the chance to see how amazing a perfectly brewed beer, at just the right time in its life, can be.  Most restauranteurs, if they venture into beer at all, are content to stay within a narrow circle of very conventional choices, which makes me kind of sad.  It's a territory that's still mostly unexplored.

In their heyday, I'd say the Hilltop & 74th St Alehouses had fantastic food. somewhere along the way, something happened, because now the food is pretty lackluster. It was definitely a step above "pub grub" and I had some pretty amazing dishes there. Timeframe was ~'95, '96 or so.

I'd also wager that most people don't really know wine pairings beyond "white with fish, red with meat" but I would agree that people are less likely to be familiar with "lighter beer with spicy foods or subtle flavors, dark fuller flavored beer with meats, cheeses, etc." I know the Pike Place Brewery tried doing food & beer pairings, having suggestions on their menus, but IMO their food, (here we go again) just wasn't that good.

So perhaps you are right. I'm not as familiar with the beer scene as I once was, but off hand I can't really think of anyplace that caters to beer geeks (certainly not on the level Brouwer's does) that has exceptional food, and seeks to pair that food with beers. Has anyone read the Garrett Oliver book?!

But c'mon, Brouwer's could at least raise the level of their food to "good pub grub" which it ain't even hitting now. And the food that they are offering isn't that complicated, and is easily made better just by changing a few things.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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""So perhaps you are right. I'm not as familiar with the beer scene as I once was, but off hand I can't really think of anyplace that caters to beer geeks (certainly not on the level Brouwer's does) that has exceptional food, and seeks to pair that food with beers. Has anyone read the Garrett Oliver book?!

But c'mon, Brouwer's could at least raise the level of their food to "good pub grub" which it ain't even hitting now. And the food that they are offering isn't that complicated, and is easily made better just by changing a few things.""

Edited by BradS (log)
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They need to raise the temperature on their fryer for better frittes. I got a steak that would make a filet mignon look like a Porterhouse. The coffee was good.

"Homer, he's out of control. He gave me a bad review. So my friend put a horse head on the bed. He ate the head and gave it a bad review! True Story." Luigi, The Simpsons

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Also, I didn't at all mean to let Brouwer's off the hook.  In fact, I hope somebody prints off this whole discussion and mails it to someone at Brouwer's.  Maybe we all should.    It would be wonderful if they could do better.  I would go there more often if I didn't have to be thinking, OK, but if I do that, where will I eat?

I know someone who works at Brouwer's; the staff has read/is reading this thread. I imagine they might be a bit flummoxed by the parallel Stranger/Weekly reviews last week. Is it possible the Weekly reviewer got a particularly good batch of frites?

Hungry Monkey May 2009
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I got a steak that would make a filet mignon look like a Porterhouse.

This comment is totally lost on me. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

As I work a couple of blocks away, I convinced a couple of work buddies to go with me after work one day. The beer was really good, with an amazing selection, and matching glassware! It was also pretty pricey. There's local competition (the Dubliner) that sells $2 pints during happy hour, and lots of other Fremont area bars with the same price or cheaper beer, with better food.

But, we were all impressed with the selection of imported beers.

If the food were better, I'd be more willing to pay the high price of those cool Belgian beers.

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The language they use in the <a href="http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0524/050615_food_brouwerscafe.php" target="_blank">Weekly review</a> isn't particularly glowing, at least not in regards to the frites. It just states the facts, really (3 sizes, 4 sauces).

I had some frites at Maximilien last night... and they were good. It can't be hard!

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Mark, I'm sorry, I meant that, size-wise, my steak was so tiny..

(How tiny was it?)

My steak was so tiny it made a filet mignon look like a Porterhouse.

A standard Filet Mignon is about 3" in diameter, a Porterhouse is often about 7" long 5" at it's widest. The steak I got at Brouwer's was a tuff Tri-tip that was about 1.5" wide and 3" long, accompanied by a mountain of undercooked and soggy fries, all for the low price of $15.

"Homer, he's out of control. He gave me a bad review. So my friend put a horse head on the bed. He ate the head and gave it a bad review! True Story." Luigi, The Simpsons

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Also, I didn't at all mean to let Brouwer's off the hook.  In fact, I hope somebody prints off this whole discussion and mails it to someone at Brouwer's.  Maybe we all should.    It would be wonderful if they could do better.  I would go there more often if I didn't have to be thinking, OK, but if I do that, where will I eat?

I know someone who works at Brouwer's; the staff has read/is reading this thread. I imagine they might be a bit flummoxed by the parallel Stranger/Weekly reviews last week. Is it possible the Weekly reviewer got a particularly good batch of frites?

If they're reading this, then I want to state my hope that they figure out a way to institute some sort of sampler (this thought is provoked partly by the Stranger's review). I know it would be difficult, given their already copious supply of glassware, but they managed to pull it off during their wonderful barleywine festival, and I bet they could pull it off on a more regular basis if they put their minds to it. And I'm not talking about giving away free tastes, like most pubs will do---they could go broke doing that on their Belgians. But I am certain that many of us would love to be able to sample a variety of beers in a small volume before investing in a full pint, and we would be happy to pay more $/oz for the chance to have some variety. As the Stranger's review noted, it's a real bummer to pay $9 or whatever some interesting-sounding Belgium ale and then have it be something you just don't like. It's also frustrating to see so many intriguing microbrews on the list and to be able to try so few of them. If they really want to educate the public about the wonders of beer, a sampler (preferably one chosen by the customer, but a fixed set of beers would be better than nothing) would be a great place to start.

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Sorry, Laurie. I skimmed that part of review and went straight to the part about the frites as an appetizer.

I haven't tried the fish and chips, but Mr. Bill said earlier that he was unhappy with his order. Strange, it does seem that the Weekly reviewer totally lucked out on the food.... Perhaps they knew he was a reviewer, or maybe (hopefully!) they've learned and improved from reading our comments?

I don't mean to be negative, or continually harp on this. I LIKE the Brouwer's and I keep going back. I'd just like to be able to count on some good fried food to go along with my Hoegaarden.

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  • 9 months later...

I've gone a few times in the last couple of months... the service is still great, the beer selection is amazing, and most of the food is quite good, for what is basically a fancy pub. I have re-tried the infamous frites, and they're better... but still not quite right.

I think they've improved quite a bit in the months that they've been open, and one really does go for the beer and the cool space. Do check it out, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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Go for the food, too. My son Ben's girlfriend, Daysha Fritz, has been the chef for the last couple of months. I know how hard she has been working to get the kitchen to a place she can both enjoy and be proud of. She welcomes feedback while you are there. Keep watching for further improvements. I'm thrilled with today's well-deserved review.

Judy Amster

Cookbook Specialist and Consultant

amsterjudy@gmail.com

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Let us know. I am not a beer drinker so I would only go back if the food is better.

"Homer, he's out of control. He gave me a bad review. So my friend put a horse head on the bed. He ate the head and gave it a bad review! True Story." Luigi, The Simpsons

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We tried to go last night, and though their website says they are indeed open on Sundays, they were closed (for a private party, from the sound of it). It would have been nice had they mentioned this closure on their website, especially since they might expect a fair number of people to visit on the weekend of a good review in the Times.

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We went last night. The mussels were good but the much discussed fries just allright. The hutsepot-a stew with beef, pork sausage, bacon and vegetables tasted pretty good but the potatoes and carrots were really crunchy, and it arrived just barely warm enough, so then it got cold pretty quickly (I should have asked to have it warmed up). And, the crunchy carrots and potatoes made up most of the dish-there wasn't that much meat.

I would probably try this place again for appetizers (the croquettes and the gratins looked good) and beer, but for dinner, probably not. It's a bar atmosphere anyway-loud music, dark interior, sports on the tv. And, the best part was the mussels, but mussels are so cheap and easy to make at home I usually hate paying $$ for the small servings you always get in a restaurant.

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