It was with great relish that I enjoyed a beer dinner at 38 Central in Southern Oregon this past week. One of the fine proprietors, David, graciously invited me to be their guest. How could I refuse? Why would I refuse!?
Immediately the name of the evening caught my attention: Deconstructing Beer and Reconstructing Dinner. Interesting. Let me tell you what that means to David and the crew.
1. The dinner was come as you wish, order off the special beer dinner menu or the regular menu. I like the idea of making the meal available all evening to all patrons when they can get there. What a great idea and spin on the “dinner starts at X” – very consumer friendly.
2. They served the beer in various glasses. This is absolutely the right thing to do for a few reasons. One, it gets people to rethink the drink simply by offering it up in a non traditional vessel. Secondly, it’s the right thing to do for the beer. The shaker pint is the worst possible commonly used beer glass. Breweries and bars/restaurants need to ‘shake’ this habit. I’m still miffed at why breweries allow these glasses (economic driven) when they KNOW the beer is not nearly at its best in them…they buy quality ingredients for the beer….hmmmm…
3. The main entree part (it was multi course) offered 2 choices. Nice! I let the server and chef select for me as I am completely happy with surprises, an omnivore and also am curious about what others pick for me and why.
4. The head brewer of the featured brewery, Mad River, was there as was the area rep – nice touch! People are intrigued with meeting people who make beer or an involved in the company in any way. It’s like babies staring at each other. Fascination. It’s feet on the beer street that help sell the story and build following and market share. Dylan and Will were super cordial, beer passionate, fun and took time to talk with me during the evening. Heck – if I wasn’t so tired from previous events during the week already, I would have totally taken them up on sitting at their table and shooting the beer breeze. Raincheck, guys?
5. The chef, Joy, is really into food and really likes beer too AND she’s very approachable. Some chefs are really stuck in themselves and the food. Having all the staff excited and eager to share with guests is key to the customer experience, especially with women.
As far as the actual setting went, here are couple other to-dos that 38 Central got right:
- Music – it was the proper able to hold a normal conversation level volume with no words.
- Lighting – just right to see fully and dimmed enough to lend a lovely cozy ambiance.
- Staff – ALL were genuinely friendly and accommodating. They clearly wanted to be there and were happy to serve.
Of course the tendency to over drink and over eat at a dinner such as this is huge. That said, the portions were close to just right for me (little less maybe since it was 4 courses). The beer servings could have been halved – and at the same time I appreciated the generosity of the pours.
The John Barleycorn Barleywine was the stand out beer to me maybe because there are still relatively few available and this one was really luscious and layered and presented very well.
The dessert was especially remarkable – a chocolate bread pudding made with brioche and Mad River Extra Stout ice cream. O. M. G. It was all uber delicious and fun. I ask you, why would you pair chocolate with anything but beer?!
Thanks for a great night! I will for sure be back, spread the good word and applaud them for a dinner well reconstructed.