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Good beer, good food

Finding good wine in a good restaurant is usually not too difficult, but it seems that less consideration is given to matching food with good beer, beyond the usual suspects. Brewpubs can sometimes be an exception, but not necessarily. I like Magnolia, but I think the menu at 21st Amendment is pretty tired. I think that with our international and sometimes spicy cuisines, beer is a much better complement than wine a lot of the time.
I'm wondering if any of you in the Bay Area diners have had the pleasure of well thought out food and beer pairings in restaurants and what your favorites are.

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  1. Have you been to Suppenkuche? I am not a beer fanatic so I don't know that their selection is particularly impressive, but there is a nice variety and the food can be quite good. Like all places, they have strong and weak points, but I've never been disappointed by their weinershnitzel or cold cut plate.

    2 Replies
      1. re: mick

        Man, what a great selection of German beers. The Germans have had centuries to perfect their food and beer combinations, as have the Belgians and Brits, and it's hard to tell which came first, the food or the beer. I have a feeling we might be onto something similar here in the Bay Area, matching our local and international cuisines with emerging American microbrews that are based on European styles.

    1. Luka's Taproom

      Luka's Taproom
      2221 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

      2 Replies
      1. re: tranewreck

        More East Bay beer & good food:

        A Cote has a pretty extensive belgian beer list.

        1. re: oaklandfoodie

          Huh, they sure do, I never noticed that. Their wine list is so great that I never thought to check out the beer list.

          http://acoterestaurant.com/menus/spir... (scroll down)

      2. Refuge in San Carlos has a good selection of Belgian beers, and the world's greatest pastrami. It's worth a trip down the Peninsula, at least once, to check it out...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rapini

          Refuge's room is very plain (square box bar with booths on one side and a few tables on the street and some flatscreens). The beer selection unfortunately avoids some of my favorites, but is lengthy at the very least (leffe blonde but not dark! come on!). The pastrami is thick-cut and stunningly soft - not overspiced. The rest of the menu looks pretty good, actually - lots of burgers and similar. Fries were great. The price on the pastrami is high but it is very, very good.

          I wouldn't say they have beer pairings. The food's good and the beer's good but it's not a pairings kind of place.

          I'm still going to Martin's West a few more times first. Haggis on a STICK? that's sick.

          1. re: Justin L

            Bar Crudo has a great beer list. My last time there, the waiter was pretty knowledgeable, and we came up with some interesting pairings.

          2. monk's kettle, la trappe

            la trappe however is belgian-oriented in both food and beer

            1. Also, if not looking for a specific date, check out Bruce Paton -


              I've been to one in the past, was a great event. The food was a little hit or miss, but the beer pourings were fantastic. I've been meaning to go again, just has never worked out, schedule-wise . . .

              1 Reply
              1. re: nsheth

                Bruce Paton, aka The Beer Chef, has some of the most fantastic beer/food dinners.
                Check out the link above, and make sure you attend one of his events.
                About two years ago I had my first taste of Foie Gras covered in dark chocolate, and paired with a dark Belgian-style ale. Bruce just comes up with the most amazing things...

              2. Speisekammer in Alameda. Suppenkuche spinoff.

                Schmidt's in SF. Walzwerk spinoff, better food.

                How's the food at La Trappe?

                2424 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA 94501

                525 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                La Trappe
                800 Greenwich St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                The Monk's Kettle
                3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                2400 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                3 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Starbelly has a great beer list. I went within the first couple of weeks they were open and thought the food decent but still a work in progress.

                  I've eaten at La Trappe a number of times - always impressed by the mussels and have had both great and average burgers.

                  1. re: tvham

                    Had the burger and fries again last night at La Trappe; excellent as always. Prather Ranch meat, I believe. They forgot the blue cheese on my burger, so after promptly correcting that, they also brought us an extra order of fries.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I find the mussels to be delicious with lots of innovative combinations (like curry).

                    The frites are made exactly how they are supposed to be with lots of great dipping sauces; and they give you lots of bread to dip in the mussel broth.

                    I think there are only two desserts, but one is probably the best Belgian waffle I've ever had (considering I rarely have this at restaurants and mostly at home, it's not saying much, but still).

                    It's certainly not high-end food, but when you just want to go have a beer with friends, kyou're not looking for that either.

                  3. Thanks all. Has anyone checked out Starbelly or Hope and Anchor? Any thoughts on the Magnolia brewpub/gastropub?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: chuckl

                      Magnolia was great but I haven't had the food since the most recent chef change (third in two years?)

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I've only had the fried chicken sandwich (with a Wit Rabbit), and it was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. Pub grub taken to a higher level

                        1. re: chuckl

                          I don't see that on the current menu, might have been a previous chef.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Specificity seems to be important as to chef and time of day with Magnolia. A friend who I trust said he had the worst Reuben of his life at Magnolia. I think the 3 of us already had this conversation 3 months back... I'd love to love magnolia, but I'd rather drink a limited selection of their better beers at Alembic with reliably good food.

                      2. re: chuckl

                        I went to Starbelly recently but didn't have a beer, ordered wine instead. I don't recall seeing a very impressive beer list and it didn't have the feel of a pub. It's more contemporary like Beretta (same owners). I thought the food was just OK and am really surprised at the long waits. I don't think the food is worth the wait, and the service is inconsistent. (I had water spilled on me by the waitress and she was apologetic but she wouldn't look at me for the rest of the meal, like she was scared. I wasn't mad or anything. I thought it was amateurish.)

                        1. re: singleguychef

                          my best food/beer experience to date has been at Monk's Kettle, though I haven't tried La Trappe yet. It seems to me that gastropubs that focus on Belgians are on the right track.

                          1. re: singleguychef

                            I've only been to Starbelly once, so I hesitate to post a review...but here goes.

                            Overall theme: well above average for the Castro, is pretty close to very good, but falls short. I wouldn't wait more than 10 minutes for a table.

                            The good: my sandwich of fried seafood had a good balance of components and could have been great.
                            The less good: my sandwich bread was "grilled" over ridiculously high heat so that some of the bread was carbonized, i.e., tasted bad. I love toasted bread, but carbonized bread, or even edges of a bun, aren't something I want or expect. My "fried clams" turned out to be calamari. A substitution I didn't mind, but no mention of this change was on the menu or given to me by my waiter.

                            I liked my beer, something I hadn't had before, I think a blonde ale from one of the Marin brewers. I liked that it was a drought beer, and tasted clean. I've had it with restaurants serving drought from filthy lines that haven't been cleaned since the restaurant opened--either Starbelly is still in its golden window of newness, or they actually clean the line every time they change the keg, as they should.

                            My better half reports that his pizza on a prior experience wasn't what he ordered, and wasn't very good. We've never thought Beretta's pizza are all that great, so maybe not the most useful data point.