One recent trend in the culinary world, the concept of the "gastro-pub," is a boon for beer lovers. Pubs that focus their efforts on good food tend to serve higher quality beers and wines than your average bar. The late, great Zymology on Lower Greenville was one short-lived example, with its 20 carefully chosen draft beers and another couple of dozen bottled selections of imports and craft beers complementing an ambitious array of wines.
Last week marked the opening of another gastro-pub, the Meddlesome Moth at 1621 Oak Lawn in the Design District--just down the street from City of Ate HQ. With about 40 taps and another 75 or so bottles, it approaches the overwhelming selection of a Flying Saucer without conceding an inch of fridge or tap-wall space to Coors Light, Budweiser or even Dos Equis. You can check out the selection online, though it doesn't include the cask tap (Avery IPA, on my visit). It's always a great sign when a bar's beer menu is twice as long as the food menu, and even better when many of those hail from the Lone Star State.
Lady Hophead and I got the chance to visit Sunday and, while the place isn't perfect (yet), we have found a new favorite bar. Oh, and the food's not bad, either.
We sat down at the bar to take in the impressive sight of the tap wall and started off with a cask-conditioned Avery IPA for me and a pecan porter from Austin's (512) Brewery for her. The IPA had a nice mild, earthy bitterness and floral aroma. Compared to a CO2-enhanced draft, it was somewhat flat, but that's to be expected from a cask-conditioned brew--the trade-off for such a fresh taste. The pecan porter was even better, a great example of a porter with chocolatey overtones and a creamy, thick body with just a hint of pecans on the nose. Both were served at an ideal cool-but-not-cold temperature, another sign of a place that prides itself on good beer. On the downside, the pours appeared to be 12 ounces rather than the expected full pints. But at least driving home safely wouldn't be an issue.
The beautiful weather (and a bartender who could charitably be described as overly attentive) quickly drew us to the patio, which was nearly full--a contrast to the nearly empty dining room and bar. Once it gets too hot for patio comfort, though, I imagine the clean, modern-looking interior--all brushed steel, brick and stained wood, with three stained-glass style windows depicting Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Louis--will be a much more attractive setting.
The beer menu was full of attractive options, many of which I have rarely if ever seen in a Dallas bar, like Green Flash IPA, Hoogstraten Poorter, Tripel Karmeliet as well as meads, sour ales and lambics. To overcome our paralyzing indecision, we decided to try a flight. The "Europe" flight, with five 4-oz. samples, turned out to be a decent bargain at $10, including Blanche de Bruxelles, Sunner Kolsch, Wells Bombardier, Brewdog Dogma and Schneider Aventinus. I loved the complex, raisin-and-toffee dark lager by Schneider and Brewdog's spiced, herbal Dogma, while Lady Hophead raved about the summery, refreshing witbier Blanche de Bruxelles.
As for food, we shared "Moth Balls" (soft-cheese filled fried pasta balls) and a lamb meat pie, filled with lamb, cauliflower and pistachios in a creamy gravy. Both were excellent, but not especially filling. The five "Moth Balls" were gumball-sized, disappointingly small for the $9.50 price tag.
The service was remarkably awkward, rife with forgotten orders, unfamiliarity with some of the beers and an odd change of servers when our original waiter by all accounts simply vanished. Before we moved outside, our bartender hovered a bit too close, lurking and interjecting himself into our conversations. Our experience was an extreme example of the expected rocky start for a newly opened establishment. Hopefully the service can reach a nice middle ground between ignorance and tiresome, nerdy over-explanation of the beers. And one last complaint: The pub only offers valet parking, an unwelcome service I will walk blocks to avoid. Fortunately, we found a place to park on the street.
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Aside from the valet and (hopefully) temporary service issues, the place should be a destination for area beer lovers. If the soon-to-open gastropub Nova in Oak Cliff even approaches the beer quality of the Meddlesome Moth, I'll be ecstatic.
A couple of events worth mentioning. First, the Dancing Bear Pub in Waco will be the host of the Texas Craft Brewers Festival 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, May 22, as part of American Craft Beer Week May 17-23. Featured are (512) Brewing Company, Live Oak Brewing Company, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Shiner, Southern Star Brewing Company, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company and Real Ale Brewing Company. Tickets are $30 per person.
Closer to home, Eno's Pizza Tavern will have its second Brew Riot homebrew competition 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 12. Entry is $20, and homebrewers can enter as many of the six categories as they want. Entries are due before June 5, and the contest recommends providing five gallons of each for the public to taste. E-mail Stacey Rives or stop by Eno's for an entry form.