REVIEW: Chef’s Table at Garlic Poet with Tröegs Independent Brewery

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Going to a beer dinner with The Garlic Poet’s Chef Kurt Wewer is an adventure all by itself. Add a brewery like Tröegs to the mix, and crazy things start to happen.

garlic poet chef's table troegs

Normally when you go to a beer dinner everything is very matchy-matchy. Sara always tells me about one instance where someone paired a blueberry wheat beer with a blueberry tart.

That’s too simple. That’s not the Garlic Poet or Troegs.

garlic poet chef's table troegs

The “Starter”

Beer: Mad Elf vertical flight with 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Meal: House made mozzarella (Caputo Brother’s Creamery) w/pickled green tomato and cucumber. Keswick Creamery Pub Music (Mixed Milk Cotswold Style) w/rutabaga and red onion jam. Dutch Meadow’s Organic Farm’s Dutch Style Camembert w/winter spiced cranberry compote.

For those of you who don’t realize this yet, Mad Elf ages really well. The 2013 version is extremely mellowed out with very light notes of cherry, while 2014 lets all of the flavors blend together. These are vastly contrasted to the punch in the face of flavor that comes with 2015. Kurt doesn’t mess around. Most people would hold off on Mad Elf until the dessert stage, but both Troegs and Kurt came out swinging with this one.

garlic poet chef's table troegs

Small Plate

Beer: Java Head firkin with cacao nibs, vanilla beans and toasted coconut

Food: Kobe beef carpaccio. bourbon-lime vinaigrette, white balsamic-hop aioli, Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop micro mustard Greens and Tatsoi, yellow and red sweet pepper, chef’s garden chive flowers, red veined sorrel, cracked pepper, balsamico tradizionale.

Kobe beef is said to be the king of beefs. The cows are massaged for hours a day while watching Netflix with a steady diet of something more expensive than we eat.

Okay, that’s a stretch, but you know what I’m saying. It’s good.

No other carpaccio can compare to this. Kobe carpaccio can stand alone with some bread. When you add the lime vinaigrette and white-balsamic hop aioli it becomes almost a religious experience.

In a matter of seconds everyone had cleared their respective plate. I want more.

The toasty notes from Java Head when combined with the beef gave it a grilled flavor. The vanilla beans, cacao nibs and toasted coconut gave the Java a sweet smooth taste.

garlic poet chef's table troegs

Main Course

Beer: Solid Sender Pale Ale

Food: Pecan Meadows Farm’s rabbit hind quarters brined, lightly smoked and grilled with pomegranate and finished with chervil and citrus butter. Winter vegetable, kale and tarragon hash. Grilled Steelton-Highspire Aquaponic Program’s baby bok choy. Winter spiced white wine and grapefruit rabbit demi glace.

By far one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. The rabbit was sous vide to keep all of the juices thoroughly intact. Solid Sender, the newest addition to the Troegs line-up, enhanced the sweet brine of the rabbit while cleansing the palate for the next bite.

If you read that whole description you might have raised a few eyebrows that Steelton-High bit. Well, the kids at the high school have started an aquaponic lab that is producing fresh produce for local buyers.

garlic poet chef's table troegs


Beer: Blizzard of Hops Winter IPA

Food: Fried crispy plantains, habanero and rum ganache bar, fried cranberries, toasted almonds, lime and white chocolate sauce, luxardo cherry infused brandy reduction.

So since Kurt knows that Sara and I like to punish ourselves with heat he prepared something extra special. He already had us giddy from the word habanero. We knew it would be hot. What we didn’t know is that he made two specifically engineered for the idiots like us who love heat.

Ours were supposed to be 10 times hotter than the rest. Yeah. Again, we like to push the limits of the heat we can tolerate. But really, it wasn’t that hot and it was actually quite delicious. I wanted to take a few home for the night.

Blizzard, my go-to beer right now [Ed.note — Sara’s too!], has the unique hop characteristics and mouth feel from the wheat to balance out the heat.

Another signature I have notice of a Kurt Wewer beer dinner is how you feel afterwards. You do not completely hate yourself for eating so much food. You are also not hammered either. It’s just the right amount of beer for the time.

Keep an eye out for the next Chef’s Table at the Garlic Poet — Jan. 23, 2016 with Liquid Hero. They are not to be missed.

James Werner
Author: James Werner

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