This is where the good folks at The Cask Republic come in.
When you walk in the doors of The Cask Republic—open since January 2011—and take in the comforting and welcoming interior, it may have been one of the 53 draught lines, one of the more than 80 bottled beers, one of the five warm stouts or the unique beer vintaging cellar that initially lured you in, but the bold and enticing cuisine will keep you coming back for more. That’s right—I said cuisine. This is not your average pub grub.
|The Vintage Room|
At a recent dinner that included beer and meal pairings, The Cask Republic owner Christian Burns and his staff, including Chef Carrion along with Manager Matt Bacco and Beverage Director Andrew Hoenig, pulled out all of the proverbial stops.
|Chef Carl Carrion describing one of his dishes|
|Pan Seared Arctic Char on a bed of flavorful barley|
Beer gurus Matt and Andrew, who seemed to know all there was to know about beer, introduced each brew with its paired course.
The pairing for the first course was a caramel laced Trappistes Rochefort 6. While the beer itself was interesting in character, it is the tale behind the brew that makes for a great bedtime story. The abridged adaptation: Brewed in very limited production by monks in a monastery near Rochefort, Belgium, they have been making this beer for centuries. Obviously, they’ve gotten it right.
|Trio of goodness: Pan Seared Scallops, Crispy Duck Skin Salad and Duck Leg Confit|
|Close-up of the Pan Seared Scallop|
|Crispy duck skin salad|
When the third course finally made its way to the table, the void that was once my stomach was quickly beginning to fill with the wonderful flavors of Chef Carrion’s food. This time around, we delighted in the House Cured House Smoked Pork Belly, braised with brown sugar and BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran—stout aged in Scottish Isle of Arran whiskey barrels—resting atop an onion puree and vanilla oil with a side of parsley salad.
|House Cured House Smoked Pork Belly|
Sticky sweet and rich with the goodness of pork as I remember from years gone by, it was nearly enough to lure me back over to the dark side.
Speaking of BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran, this was the beer pairing selection for the third course. As a beer novice, many of the finer nuances of flavor are lost one me; however, I will say that this brew was the perfect complement to the pork belly as there was a distinct flavor of dark chocolate that left a lasting impression.
|BBQ Braised Short Ribs with Shelbourne Cheddar Polenta & Crisp Spinach|
Once again, Andrew and Matt did not disappoint when they paired Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Grand Cru, brewed right here in the U.S.A.—California, to be exact—with the short ribs. Scotch and bourbon barrel aged, it was a surprisingly smooth ale.
|Decadence: One, two, three strikes you're fat|
Say it with me, people: Mmmmmmm.
I’ll start with my least favorite of the three—although this is not a slight in the least as it was a charmingly creamy creation—the rice pudding. Unfortunately, I did not have much of it as, texturally, coconut is one of those things that are difficult for me to deal with. However, my colleagues assured me the dessert was head and shoulders above other rice puddings that they have tried.
Next came the float, which was made with vanilla ice cream and Cherish Kriek, a fruity Belgium beer—yes, beer—with a cherry taste vaguely reminiscent of cough syrup, and it was superb. Next in the trio of self-indulgence, the cheesecake was prepared with a glaze made with Lindeman’s Cassis, yet another Belgium brew with the flavors of dried plums, dark courant and a smidgen of butterscotch. It was PB&J in a whole new way.
It is an overworked phrase in my personal vocabulary, but the food at The Cask Republic was decidedly slap somebody good and left me craving more. Don’t think that the culinary genius ends with the choices mentioned above. Perhaps you’re in the mood for Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels ($11) as a starter. Maybe the Warm Duck Confit Salad ($12) is tempting your palate or perhaps the Tempura Fried Eggplant ($11) or German Pretzel Sandwich ($11) is more to your liking. But then again, maybe you’re a Steak Frites ($20) or Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin ($21) type of person. Regardless of what pleases you, it bears repeating: This is not your average pub grub.
Neither is The Cask Republic limited to just beer. They also serve wine by the glass or bottle, single malt scotch, artisan beer spirits, tequila, cognac, bourbon and whiskey.
|The beer that caused a stir in the beer community, as proudly shown to me by Andrew in the Vintage Room - aged in bourbon barrels for over a year|
The Cask Republic is open seven days a week. Kitchen Hours M-Th 11:30a-10p, F-Sa 11:30a-11p, Su 11:30a-10p; Bar Hours M-Th 11:30a-1a, F-Sa 11:30a-2a, Su 11:30a-1a; Late Night Bar Menu Hours Su-Th ‘til 12a, F-Sa ‘til 1a. PRICES: Appetizers $9-$13, soups & salads $6-$12, burgers & sandwiches $10-$12, entrées $16-$22
The Cask Republic
179 Crown Street
New Haven, CT 06501
On the web: http://www.thecaskrepublic.com/