Letter to a Restaurant

After reading @Ale_of_a_time recent blog post “Thoughts on beer in Melbourne Restaurants” it got me thinking about something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.

And that is open a dialogue with a restaurant to try and determine why thought and effort is put in to wine, but beer is treated like something they add to the menu to keep the bogans happy.

There is no point, obviously, in asking someone like Josie Bones.. There is passion about beer there, so I thought I would start with a restaurant that actually has a larger then average beer list, but which is full of lagers.

So I’ve decided to email the Dandenong Pavilion.

Here is the E-mail I have sent them:

As semi regular customers of Dandenong Pavilion I was hoping if I could ask you, or the management team, at Dandenong Pavilion a few questions in regards to your selection of beers.

As  an avid beer drinker, I find the majority of restaurants to have a very very disappointing selection of beers. While on the other hand,  many take the time and effort to put together a decent selection of wines, many even going to the effort to ensure those wines are local.

What I am trying to understand, is why no thought or effort is put in to the selection of beer?

To be fair, Dandy Pav does have a slightly better then average selection of beers, in my “beerview” I gave you guys a 3/5 (http://coldale.net/snobblog/2011/06/27/dandenong-pavillion/)

In Dandenong itself, there are 3 breweries that I can think of, off the top of my head.

You have Matilda Bay, which are owned by the Fosters group. Artic Fox which is a small micro brewery and a micro brewery located at the Chifely Hotel. There are a large number of micros located in Victoria itself, all producing a variety of quality beers.

To dissect your menu slightly.

You have 3 lagers and 1 Ale on Tap

13 Lagers and 1 Ale in bottles.

Out of those 18 beers, there is only really one beer that I would consider “craft”, and that is the Knappstein.

Is there a reason why there is such a large selection of lagers on the menu? Is there a lack of understanding of the different styles/flavour of beer?

I would appreciate if you could take the time to respond to my email. I do intend to post the initial email to my blog, however if you would prefer that your response is not given in full then I am happy to omit some, or all of it, from public view.

It is about understanding the reasoning behind the choice of beers, rather then being critical of any one restaurant.

To give you background on myself, I’m not affiliated with any brewery, as much as I’d like to be. I am not part of any organisation or industry body.

Beer is my hobby. I’ve had over 700 different beers and continue to try more and more beers. I actually work in IT for the Victorian Government.

If I get a reply that they chose to allow to be shared, I will add the reply below.  Hopefully with more understanding of why resturants continue to ignore good beer, we as a beer community can better formulate a response.

Categories: Beer | 3 Comments

Josie Bones


Address:
98 Smith Street Collingwood

Website: josiebones.wordpress.com

Beerscore: 5

Food: 5 / 5

Staff: 5/5

Josie Bones is owned by Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins from Series 1 of Masterchef. I’m not sure if they ever actual do any cooking themselves, which is a shame.. As being a fan of the show, I wouldn’t mind seeing what grub they can come up with :)

Josie Bones goes to the effort of hiring a Beer Manager. Don’t call James a sommelier as he thinks he doesn’t know enough. But he does do a pretty damn good job of it.

While I don’t always agree with his recommendations, he tries to keep his customers happy, and is very passionate about beer.  He knows his beer list very well, and there are hundreds on the menu.

The only real annoyance with Josie Bones.. The price of beer.  Both times I’ve been there, there has been nothing on tap under $10.

Having said that, he did offer to replace one of the Imperial Stouts I had on the night, since it was a bit over carbonated, and he when he suggested a beer to the missus, he offered to take it off the bill if she didnt like it. So I guess for that kind of service,  you pay the price.

 

I was too busy enjoying myself to take photos of the food, but as you would expect from an ex masterchef contestant, it was “well plated” and really was full of flavour. They are really tappas sized plates. So you are looking at 2-3 dishes + dessert each, which does make it an expensive night.

The desserts are bloody awesome, both times I’ve been there they have been worth the visit alone, never mind the mammoth beer list.

Our friends at Eat, Drink, Stagger have done a more extensive review of Josie Bones.

Categories: 5, Restaurant Beerviews | Leave a comment

The Woolshed Pub


Address:
Shed 9, Central Pier, Docklands 3008

Website: www.woolshedpub.com.au

Beerscore: 3

Food: 5 / 5

Staff: 3/5

We visited the woolshed since we picked up one of those spreet vouchers pretty cheap, the voucher was for a seafood platter for two for half price with a bottle of grape piss thrown in. Good thing the missus drinks that stuff :)

The beer list is more impressive in its length, then its actual content. Although there were a few different styles so it wasnt too bad.

They do boast 11 taps, but 2 ciders are included on those taps, and on the beer list… Beer is rarely made with apples… Anyway… As well as the usual suspects, Fat Yak and Kronenbourg 1664 made the cut on to the tap list.

They also had Alpha Pale Ale and a few wheat’s in bottles.

Bottle List

Tap List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seafood platter was quite impressive in that it wasn’t one of those take 3 tier basket, dunk it oil and fry the shit out of it.

The softshell crab and a delicious batter, and the calamari was tender and the batter was light. The rest of the seafood was served cold and included Morton Bay Bugs, Prawns Oysters and Scallops.

For dessert we shared a Sticky Date Pudding, the butterscotch sauce was sensational.

The only  negative was the attitude given. My missus asked if she could swap the entire bottle of white, for a glass of red. They said no. Which really wasn’t a huge deal being that the spreets deal came with the bottle of white. The big annoyance was the way that as soon as we finished dessert we were rudely asked “Would you like anything else?” and when we declined, we were promptly handled the bill.

Nothing says GTFO like an unprompted bill. I got the feeling that the attitude towards spreet’s customers may have been a managerial thing more then a staff thing. Other then those two instances, the service itself was reasonably good. I’d be interested in going back there again to see what the service is like as a “full paying” customer.

 

Categories: 3 | Leave a comment

Dandenong Pavillion


Address:
55-61 Princes Highway, Dandenong VIC 3175

Website: www.dpav.com.au

Cuisine: Modern Australian

Beerscore: 3 – Megaswill + Taps

Food: 4 / 5

Staff: 5/5

The dandy Pav has a huge selection of choices as far as meals go, Beer wise they have the usual suspects plus a few tap beers including James Squire Amber. They also have Knapsetin. The JS + Knapsetin  give it a 3/5… just.

The staff are always professional and friendly, and the food decent. On this occasion I had the pizza… As per my usual, I ordered it with extra cheese :)

 

Categories: 3 | Leave a comment

The Eating House


Address:
Shop 17, Wellington Village Shopping Centre, 1100 Wellington Road, Rowville Victoria 3178

Website: www.eatinghouse.com.au

Cuisine: Modern Australian

Beerscore: 2 – Megaswill

Food: 4 / 5

Staff: 4/5

 

The Eating house  would probably be the closest cafe/restaurant to where we live. It opened about the same time as the Wellington Village shopping centre about 7 yrs ago.

Unfortunately it has steadily declined. It is in need of some new tables and chairs, and the staff aren’t quite as professional as they used to be.

Beer wise they have your usual CUB crap, and they have thrown in a few “premium” lagers in for the ride….


The food is usually good though, with a variety of snacks, mains and pizza’s. The all day brekkie (well till 5pm) is a bonus for those of us that like to sleep in.

The missus and myself shared the calamari, it was tender and full of flavour.

Categories: 2, Restaurant Beerviews | Leave a comment

Sakura House Japanese Restuarant

Address: Knox City Shopping Centre, 425 Burwood Hwy, Wantirna South

Website: None

Cuisine: Japanese

Beerscore: 2 – Megaswill + Some Japanese Lagers.

Food: 4 / 5

Staff: 4/5

 

 

There is a lot to like at Sakura House at Knox Ozone. The food is always good, and the Egg Wrapped Japanese fried rice is worth an honourable mention.

Unfortunately the beer menu is lacking. It’s all generic lagers, but at least there are some Japanese varieties if you want to match the food.

 

Categories: 2, Restaurant Beerviews | Leave a comment

BYO License and Beer

Dear Restaurant Owner,

I have a bone to pick with  you. Why do you not allow me to bring my own beer when  you have a BYO license?

Sure you might stock the usual range of mass produce horsepiss in a bottle created by the likes of CUB or Lion Nathan, or that slightly better, but not by much, mass produced crap under license from so called premium “overseas” breweries… But I, and many others, don’t want to drink that crap.

Sure your best wine is a great vintage chateau cardboard, so you offer BYO wine,  because you know.. Those wine drinkers are so discerning that you cant possibly offer the best wine to these people so you must allow them to bring in an alternative.

So I ask again, why not offer the same  for beer?

From my understanding of the Victorian BYO permit, there is no limitation on what BYO is. All it states is:

“A BYO Permit authorises the consumption, possession and control of liquor in a restaurant or club that does not hold a liquor licence.”

So I ask again, why not beer?

Australian’s drink approx 104.7 litres of beer per capita per  year vs wine at 22.9 litres, and the craft beer sales are growing while mass produced swill sales are dropping.

I’ve personally drunk over 200 different Australian beers alone. Two hundred, and yet most restaurants will offer 4 or 5 CUB products, all lagers without any real thought of style or food pairings.

Oh yeah.. you CAN pair food and beer. Who would of thunk it?

But back to BYO.

I would happily pay “bottle cappage” or whatever you would want to call it for the privilege of you opening my beer, just like you charge corkage for wine.

Like any discerning wine drinker, I realise that it is unrealistic for you to always stock my favourite brew. Hell, I know the realities of business. I know I cant expect anyone to keep bottles of Nogne-o Sweet Horizon in stock just on the off chance someone is willing to come in and spend $50 on a bottle. Your storage is precious. Your money is precious, and taking big risks on a  diverse range  of beer may not be the best business decision…

BUT! Allowing beer drinkers to bring their own beer, allows those of us with taste the opportunity to enjoy our time at  your resturant more. You still make something on “beer cappage”. You have more happy customers, and it really costs you little to nothing to do.

BYO Equal opportunity. That’s all I’m asking for.

Categories: Beer | 4 Comments

Beletti Restaurant

Address: 159 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong, Victoria 3175

Website: http://www.beletti.com.au

Cuisine: Modern Italian

Beerscore: 2 – Megaswill + Some Italian Lagers.

Food: 2 / 5

Staff: 4/5

It’s unfortunate that I decide to start doing restaurant beer reviews and my first one has to be a crap restaurant.  But here goes.

Beletti’s is a modern Italian restaurant that forms part of the Punt Hill Apartments in Dandenong. Perhaps it was a bad night, perhaps not but at the risk of sounding like a judge from Masterchef, a lot of skill was lacking in the food.

First off, to the important part…. The beer list. Mass produced shite covers the beer list:

Victorian Bitter, Carlton Draught
Cascade, Premium Light
Crown Lager, Pure Blond, James Boags
Moretti (ITA), Menabrea Birra (ITA), Peroni (ITA), Stella Artois (BEL), Corona (MEX)
Ashi (JAP), Guinness Stout (IRE), Heineken (HOLL)

I don’t believe for an instance that they paid extra to get “real imports”, and these will all be brewed under license, although I didn’t actually buy any as I don’t buy shit beer. So its an assumption ;)

They did stock Beer relevant to the target cuisine so I guess that’s a minor plus.

Another annoyance with the Drinks list was the lack of Canadian Club, my fallback drink.. So straight coke it was….

On to the food…..

I ordered the Lamb Ribs, and my partner ordered the Scampi salad. The rib sauce was overcooked to the point of being burnt which lent a Jerky taste to the ribs… I didn’t really pay too much attention until the end, where I noticed that parts were still raw… So dry and almost burnt on the outside, raw on the inside…. Good thing I eat my steak Blue… The chips, however, were golden and crunchy, the way chips should be (CAN YOU HEAR ME KFC!)

My lovely partner ordered the Scampi Salad and specifically ordered the dressing on the side. What she got was a creamy sauce to the side. And oil all over her rocket salad. The Scampi was cooked perfectly, however the salad itself was old and some of it was even wilted. She also mentioned the Semi dried tomatoes tasted like they were fermenting.

For dessert I ordered one of my favourites, Cremé Bruleé. What I got was a lumpy eggy custard, that lovelly caramalised sugar top that is supposed to be there, was instead a small smattering of suger that wasn’t caramalised properly.

So all in all, there looked to be a lack of skill in the kitchen, as well as a lack of quality control.

The service itself, wasn’t too bad. Other then the two arrogant Italian males behind the bar that did almost zero work, the girls were friendly and did the little things like provide finger bowls for washing away rib sauce, a bowl for placing the shells and kept the water glasses full.

Hopefully it was just a bad night for them, but I certainly wont be going back to find out if that’s the case.

Categories: Restaurant Beerviews | 2 Comments

Slowbeer Haul 2/6/2011

This months stash:

  1. Nøgne ø Dark Horizon III
  2. Nøgne ø Red Horizon
  3. Antica Birreria Double Malt Ale
  4. Beer Here Mørke
  5. Yeastie Boys Hud-a-wa’ Stron
  6. Jagiello Magnus Wisniowy
  7. Jagiello Magnus Piwa Raku
  8. Jagiello Magnus Czekoladowy
  9. Jagiello Miodowe
  10. 2 x Brewdog Paradox Isle Of Arran Imperial Stout
  11. Van Dieman Ragged Jack Pale Ale
  12. Van Dieman Stacks Bluff Oatmeal Stout
  13. Mike’s Organic Traditional Dark MildAle
  14. 4 Pines Pale Ale
  15. Grand Ridge “WHOA!” Wet hopped Oatmeal Ale
  16. 8 Wired iStout
  17. Holgate The Empress

Not a bad days work :)

Categories: Beer Loot | Leave a comment

Are we not critical enough of Australian Brewers?

The question was just asked here http://bit.ly/mLCyCQ on twitter.

So for my 2c’s here goes.

Short answer is.. no we are not. But do we need to be?

There are many brewers who “play it safe”.  I recall reading a comment after GABS at the Local Taphouse that Australian Brewers do not take enough risk. I do agree with this sentiment.

But then… Look at the market they are playing in. They are competing with the big corporate might of Kirin, Fosters etc…

They get stung so much in excise on their beers,  in what is an unfair system.

They also need to battle with the  “<insert mass produced swill here> is real beer, and everything else is for snobs or poofs” mentality that is rife in mainstream Australia.

Producing big beers likes Brewdog like to do, is expensive and cost prohibitive.. And is a massive risk. Your market is small. Those of us willing to indulge in a big big Double IPA are few and far between. There isn’t a lot of money to be made.

While beer is a passion for a lot of us, its just a “beer” to others, not everyone is happy to shell out AUD $200 for a Sink the Bismark.

Another reality of modern life, is that the communication tools available to the modern joe are fairly extensive. Your view, for right or wrong, is too easy to get out there in the mainstream.

I have a reasonably small amount of followers (98) on twitter. That is still 98 people that can read my opinion. They can then retweet that opinion to potentially tens of thousands of people. And how much opinion can  you place in 140 characters anyway?

Blogs are a different matter,  more can be said but the reach may not be as far.

I think its all good and well to say we are not critical enough, but when that personal critical opinion can be spread so far and wide on a topic where opinions are so varied, it could potentially do unfair damage to a micro breweries reputation that is undeserved, unless they are truly shit.

Haven’t’ found one quite that bad yet :)

If you know me or ever have the misfortune of meeting me, feel free to ask me of my opinion on a certain breweries or brews that I have had, and you will get a blunt and honest opinion and the discussion around it that the beer in question deserves.

Categories: Beer | 2 Comments