Monday, August 9, 2010

World Cafe Live - Grilled Cheese and Beer Tasting

In a new monthly installment, that hodgepodge of concert goodness World Cafe is offering "Grilled Cheese & Craft Beer" nights. For a mere $35 (incl. tax and tip), you too can enjoy five courses and four beers. Although the grilled cheeses (served en masse to the entire upstairs dining hall) were invariably less than hot, overall, I found it hard to resist the combination of cheese, bread, and craft beer.

The beer was Pretty Things Beer, a Cambridge, Mass-based "gypsy brewery run by Dann & Martha Paquette." Served in wine-sized bottles, the offerings were rich and flavorful, making me hope that "gypsy brewery" did not mean "incredibly hard to find again."

First up was the cheddar monte cristo, craisins, pineapple mustard on ale rye bread, served with "Field Mouse's Farewell," described as a French and rustic beer. The sandwich was a little soggy from the sauce-like pineapple mustard, made worse by the lack of utensils. The beer was perfect and if I knew my descriptive beer adjectives, I'd use them.

Second course was my favorite - pesto mozzarella, oven cured tomato puree and balsamic glaze on braided challah bread. The bread was that airy-but-substantive mix that showed off the tomato and mozzarella flavors. I clearly was far too into the sandwich before I realized I hadn't taken a picture yet. The tomato puree was served on the side and provided the perfect dipping sauce. Served with Jack D'Or, or Pretty Things' table beer, it was rather refreshing, considering it was grilled cheese and beer.
The fish and chips course presented the most challenging for our utensil-challenged meal. The potato chips were a bit too overpowering, but as a chip substitute, they stood up to the other flavors. The fish, despite looking over-fried, was light, flaky and moist. Served with "Saint Botolph's Town," which featured the malts of Yorkshire, England. The extent of my description on this beer would be "dark and rich." The last course, a grilled skirt steak, boursin and caramelized onions on multi-grain had a predictable but satisfying flavor and was paired with my favorite beer of the evening (hopefully not just because it was also my fourth beer of the evening), the "American Darling," made from a German caramel pils malt. It hit all of my favorite beer notes: strong, crisp, with a slightly sweeter finish. Last but not least was a "bublanina" dessert, described as a "czech bubble cake made with babayaga beer, with fruit sauce and creme." Unfortunately, the raspberry fruit sauce overpowered this cake for me and, even after four beers, I had no interest in finishing it. But an interesting concept.

This event offers a happy concept overall -- good value, great combinations, but rough on the execution. Grilled cheese is one of those dishes that has to be hot when served. Still, something about bread, cheese, and beer is fairly irresistible and World Cafe delivered. September is already sold out, so get tickets in advance.

World Cafe Live is located at 30th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, Thanks to MCRF for the birthday treat.

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