Some of you loyal followers out there have grown up with us and remember the Pick of The Week column I published weekly online for several years. That column ultimately fell victim to a crumbling economy and was discontinued. Well, after several heated board meeting discussions, a flung meatball or two and a few cold brews — it’s officially back and I’m happy to say this article marks its long-awaited return.
My Pick of The Week column, just as in the past, will be published online weekly sometime around midweek.
This week’s pick takes us all the way to downtown Woodstock to a place called Freight Kitchen & Tap (251 E Main St, Woodstock Tel: 770.924.0144).
You know I wouldn’t drag you all the way out there unless I truly believed there is something to this place. And that something is a guy by the name of Chris Pease, a serious beer palate who previously helped put a place called Hop City Craft Beer and Wine on the map.
Do I have your attention now?
Pease heads up the beer program at Freight, which offers two carefully recommended brews per dish — even appetizers and desserts — each splashed in ink on the menu. His selection won’t dazzle beer connoisseurs with quantity, offering only two dozen bottles and eight draughts, but should easily gain some notoriety for quality and for being so food savvy.
Now, I wouldn’t go so far to say the food on its own merits a drive from anywhere in the city, but it is better than average pub grub. In this case, the beer elevates the kitchen, but in such a way, thanks to Pease, it seamlessly becomes a part of the culinary experience.
My absolute favorite pairing on the menu is a salty chips poutine with Shmaltz Brewing’s HeBrew Messiah Nut Brown Ale, a wonderful brown ale that drinks a little bit like a doppelbock — probably why I am so fond of it. This beer’s beautiful roasty caramel malts punctuate the earthiness of the gravy while its hazelnut undertones meld right in as if it was meant to be. The brew’s sticky mouthfeel marries quickly to the creamy mozzarella cheese curds and this versatile beer — from a food standpoint — has just enough spicy hop character to counter the chips’ salt personality.
A truly remarkable pairing that begs me to recreate this dish using the beer in the gravy.
The one standout offering from the kitchen is the burger, made from 100% Black Angus briskett — they grind it in-house daily.
At the bar, during my visits the eight taps were all local brews (Monday Night, Red Hare, Wild Heaven, O’Dempsey, Sweewater, Terrapin) with the exception of one handle, which was pouring Rogue Hazel Nut Brown Nectar Ale — another excellent brown.
Other brews worth mentioning: Innis & Gunn Rum Cask, Allagash White and Unibroue La Fin Du Monde.