Thursday, February 14, 2008

Post Script: AAH Valentines Dinner

I mentioned a few days ago we'd be heading up to Auburn Alehouse for their big special meal tonight. To begin, their food is regularly top-notch, with their regular menu offering exceptional dishes. We weren't sure what to expect heading in, the four courses seemingly 'overpriced' and not entirely jumping out at us. Boy, were we wrong.

First dish was a seared tuna salad, served in martini glasses - great presentation. This was a great starting plate, lightly dressed and with a mild zest quality throughout. It was perhaps too delicate for the IPA Brian just put on this week, but did go shockingly well with Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus.

Up next, a bowl of shrimp bisque soup. We were surprised it came as quick as it did, we weren't quite ready for it, but it was good. I feel a bit bad for this dish, squished in between two great dishes and never really capturing our full attention, as we soon found our main course in front of us before the soup was consumed. The IPA did seem more appropriate here.

The entre of the night was fillet wellington, which blew us both away. My goodness, this steak was as tender as any you'd hope to find, seared nicely before being topped with fois gras, wrapped in puff pastry and baked to perfection. The plate also had stuffed prawns, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Knowing this was on the menu, I brought a bottle of Firestone Walker Eleven to enjoy. Oh my! You really can't ask for better experiences. I know the beer's hard to come by, but if you're lucky to see one available, trust me: it's worth the 17 bucks or so to buy. We poured glasses to share with Brian the Brewmaster, as well as Louise the Chef... it was well received.

Dessert, after that amazing plate, was the afterthought you'd hope it would be. Honestly, the truffles were great and paired nicely with the Cantillon. It's just, well, we were full and still recalling the beef. I have a feeling we'll be remembering the wellington for some time, actually.

In addition to the above mentioned beers, we can attest to the high quality of Brian's Red 45, which I'd expect has a bit of Vienna malt judging by the flavor, falling somewhere in between an Octoberfest and ESB... which is to say hoppier and ale-esque. That IPA of his is nothing short of beautiful. My goodness, piney, citrusy, floral - it really runs the gamut of American hop flavor.

One final note about AAH. Their staff just rocks, and it starts with the owners and managers. Brian works his ass off, typically starting before any of us are dreaming of being awake, but still finds it important to get behind the bar and do the things that need to be done. Then, there's Sloan, the attractive, friendly and hard-working manager. This woman is inspiring to watch, as one minute she can be mixing drinks before sweeping the floor on her way to bus a table. Not only that, the staff clearly likes her. Our server of the night was Michelle, kind, prompt and just a pleasure to see. They know their jobs, do them well and all work to make patrons feel right at home. Maybe that's why it's like a second home.