Sunday, March 15, 2009

Someone Gets It Right

A while back I posted about trying to find a good local dry stout. Despite the best efforts of St. Andrei at The Newport Market, nothing could be located. There are plenty of stouts, but even Moylan's Dragon Dry Irish Stout, touted as a dry stout, is really really sugary. 

I was heartened to read a blurb in this week's The Source Weekly that McMenamin's had brewed up a dry stout in honor of St. Patrick's Day and the press release had all the right magic words:
McMenamins Irish Stout is our interpretation of the internationally renowned beer style that originated in Ireland and was popularized by legendary brewing institutions, such as Guinness, Murphy's and Beamish. Historically speaking, the style emerged early in the 19th century from attempts by Irish brewers to capitalize on the success of London porters. To cut costs, unmalted (and therefore, untaxed at the time) roasted barley was used, which imparted a unique and distinctively different coffee-like bitterness to the flavor and aroma of the ale. Thus, a new beer style was born.

McMenamins Irish Stout is made as traditionally as possible with our own little twist. It is a very dark, ebony-colored stout with a thick, creamy and long-lasting head. The flavor is a fantastic fusion of coffee- like roasted barley bitterness and semi-sweet chocolate. A moderate hop bitterness balances pleasingly with this hearty backbone, while tiny nitrogen bubbles enhance the sensation on your taste buds with a smooth, silky creaminess.

Sounds like they know what they're doing right?


They got it right. Mrs Elliott and I tooled over to Mcmenamin's last night and the stout is nearly perfect. Crisp, dry, slightly bitter, and with more flavor than Guinness, but most certainly of the style of Guinness.

The service was pretty poor, though. The french fries were nearly burnt, which the server said she also noticed (?), Mrs Elliott said that her $10 salad was "pretty good," my $12 pasta dish and uninspired chunk of garlic bread were also "pretty good." The bartenders, though. Looked like they were moving in slow motion. One's hands were shaking so badly that he struggled with his mixing.

But I forgive them for all that -- the stout is that good. It'll only be there for March, but I most certainly will enjoy it while I can. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bistro Corlise Shutting Down, Me Sad

It's hardly news now that Bistro Corlise is closing. Mrs Elliott and I went by last night to taste, for (probably)  the last time, owner Jason Logan's amazing cooking. And again, we were captivated by the delicate, light, richly-flavored and textured well-balanced food that he has so consistently delivered. 

We are neither of us well-heeled enough to have been frequent customers, but when we could, we dined there. The food and wine always exceeded our expectations, and sometimes wildly so. 

Bend apparently did not embraced Bistro Corlise, for whatever reasons. Not flashy enough for the big spenders? Fear of French cooking? Our opinion was that they needed a more cheerful and inviting front window, and the main dining room always felt a bit dark and gloomy to us. John Gottberg Anderson reviewed Bistro Corlise for the Bulletin (March 1, 2008) , and wrote "A pleasant space, but it feels empty. Request a window table," and the decor, "...pleasant, if understated...". 

Jason is quoted as saying, "In the end, it’s just about flavor." Which be a summation of where his priorities were. Flavor his food always had, in abundance. However, decor certainly has an effect on how people feel about a restaurant. So maybe with a little more attention on the dining ambience, they'd still be in business. 

Or maybe not -- the economy has been rough on all the better places. 

It's mootable but beside the point. For us, the service was always excellent and the food, as I have written about before, simply spectacular. 

We'll miss Bistro Corlise.
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