by Eric Doksa
When I first heard that HōM was hosting a beer dinner, my immediate thought was — burgers and beer? Not very original, but also not a bad thing because HōM’s burgers are incredible. But once I saw the menu, I was intrigued since there wasn't a burger in sight.
HōM teamed up with Holy City Brewing to put together a menu that consisted of anything but burgers. Chef Shay MacDonald spent quite a bit of time sampling various Holy City brews in order to spark some creativity, which helped him come up with a one-of-a-kind menu.
Last Wednesday night, guests arrived for a reception that featured three Holy City Beers on tap for sampling: Holy City Slam American Pale Ale (5% ABV), Smoked Märzen (6.3% ABV), andSir Pantaloons Belgian Dubbel (6% ABV). The Smoked Märzen is seasonal, but the Slam (Brewed for the Family Circle Cup) and Sir Pantaloons are both one-off beers, so it was a treat to try them. The best part of the reception was the ultra-laid-back atmosphere. The three brews were self-serve so guests could drink what they wanted, at their own pace, while mingling.
Dinner started promptly at 7 p.m. when Holy City’s Chris Brown introduced the first-course beer: Lowcountry Dark Ale (6.2% ABV), a black, roasty IPA, with nice hop character without being too overpowering. Aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, the LDA was paired with ancho-cocoa seared lamb loin carpaccio, bing cherry, frisée, and vanilla onion relish, which was a dish of beauty. The presentation was spectacular and the sweet cherries, bitter greens, and vanilla from the onions created a very pleasing flavor alongside the thin pieces of lamb. The caramel malts and lingering chocolaty notes of the beer accented the sweet spots of the dish in an appropriate manner.
The second course consisted of pork tenderloin medallions on a bed of roasted garlic and blue cheese potato puree, buttered popcorn, powdered with a mixture of butter and oil, mimicking additional pieces of popcorn. With so much butter, the dish paired perfectly with the crisp, slightly hoppy, Holy City Pilsner (5 % ABV). Best pairing of the night.
Up next was a very colorful dish of seared scallop, banana guacamole, and strawberry salsa paired with Laser Pants Belgian Strong Pale Ale (8.3% ABV), a beer that made its debut at Brewvival. We were lucky to get to experience it again at HoM. The presentation may have not been as appealing as the first two dishes, but the slight fruit character of the beer worked well with the bananas and strawberries. A bit sweet, but creative and good nonetheless.
On the initial menu, the fourth course listed a spring salad paired with Spring Cleaning IPA (6.5% ABV). A spring salad late in the dinner seemed a bit odd, but out came a soft poached egg and arugula swimming in a bowl of beer broth with a touch of a mystery green aioli, which was similar to a chimichurri. It all made sense once I cracked the egg open and let the yolk ooze into the broth. The bitterness of the arugula alongside the creamy egg yolk infused the broth, and the fresh green aioli brought out a lot of unexpected flavors in both the dish and the beer. The broth was so good that some of us at the table wished we had a spoon as we resorted to drinking out of the bowl. If this “salad” were on the HoM menu, I’d order it all the time. Spectacular.
I didn’t think the soupy salad could be topped, but the next course — a Neuskies crème brûlée with smoked salt, frisee, bacon, and truffle vinaigrette — scored high too. Crème brûlée and bacon are two of my favorite things. The frisée was confusing, but it worked. The smokiness of the bacon couldn’t have gone any better than with the bacon infused Notorious P.I.G (6.5% ABV). The pairing was the ultimate combo of salty and sweet.
Last but not least was a dish of figs, ice cream, tootsie roll, and beer foam, which was paired with the big New Year’s Resolution Doppelbock (10% ABV). The deep raisin flavors of the beer complemented the figs and ice cream well, but it was hard to follow the ridiculous bacon crème brûlée.
Overall, the dishes were creative and delicious, showcasing what MacDonald is capable of. Each course came out in a timely manner without any lag, which was especially satisfying considering it was HōM’s first beer dinner. I tip my hat to MacDonald, Holy City, and the amazing HōM staff and leave only one question: Can we please do this again?