Saturday, March 5, 2011
Brewery Vivant - Belgian Tradition, Local Mission, 925 Cherry St SE - 2/18/11
An old funeral chapel now holds a very unusual pub/brewery that should not be missed. The large, wooden doors still have “Chapel” written above them. Walk in and you are in a small foyer with a hostess station and t-shirts for sale. Upon entering the pub, you will be treated to vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows.
It feels more like a monastery than a chapel, however, with somewhat austere decor. The floor is concrete and the walls are cinder block. A large cabinet holding goblets sits back in what was the apse, and a horseshoe bar, which seats about a dozen, extends from the cabinet into the middle of the place.
Each side wall contains three large booths or alcoves, and a long row of unfinished wooden, communal tables with benches extends from front to back. Three or four smaller tables fill out the area. The atmosphere is rustic and spacious. A small balcony is located above the entry and light streams in through the stained glass window.
The brewery is located in an attached building that once was a repair shop, and tours are promised for sometime this spring. There’s also talk of an outdoor beer garden to be located in an area facing Cherry Street.
The lunch menu is small and contains eight interesting selections. (The dinner menu is much larger.) Our first choice was Lobster Corndog, described as Maine lobster, cornmeal and vivant farmhand butter, house remoulade, with pomme frites. It was accompanied by a garlic, bearnaise-mayo. The dish was quite delicious and the cornmeal coating was not overwhelming. It was enhanced by the remoulade, tasting of lemon and pepper.
Our second choice was the burger. It consisted of 8 ounces of a “chef-selected blend of humanely raised hanger steak, top sirloin, and short ribs.” It was served with tomato, butter bib lettuce, onion, and bacon marmalade, and was also accompanied by pommes frites with the bearnaise-mayo. Cheese and bacon were added for a $2.00 up-charge. It was a lovely burger, and very well prepared.
You won't find salt and pepper, or ketchup, on the tables. It's a good sign of a confident chef.
Beer flights are offered, and at the time of our visit there were eight brews listed. (We both enjoyed the two we chose but that’s for another time.) One may also select from two hard ciders, and a Chardonnay or Cabernet Franc.
There’s a lot more that can be said about this very unique place and we would suggest checking out their website for more information and menus. It’s not inexpensive (the burger was $12.00, but where else can you order a burger made from hanger steak, top sirloin, and short ribs?). You will receive quality food and brew. Above all, drop in to experience this pub in person (and don't miss the innovative restroom sinks!).