Aslan Brewing Co. Bellingham
I went for happy hour (and more) yesterday. Wow. I am very impressed!
The negatives for me, was that it is full of hard surfaces (including uncomfortable chairs) so it is loud in there and it has communal tables (which I despise) but with happy hour being less crowded, it worked out fine.
The beer was terrific, all organic, and the attention to detail and pride in the craft is obvious. The servers were very knowledgable about the brew and gave us spot on advice. I ordered a summer ale that was really light, citrusy with delicate carbonation ...perfect for me as I am not a big fan of beer most days. I asked about a brew with ginger in it, the server steered me out of that one unless I was "committed" ...it is very gingery. I laughed and thanked her because we were ordering food and would, indeed, likely clash with our menu choice that day. The service was amazing, fast, informative, polite, friendly but not overly so- if that makes sense. My partner ordered a new beer, just out, and I can't remember the name. It was an IPA and was fragrant and medium bodied, a nice palate cleansing beer actually.
One order of Elote. Elote!!! In a northwest brew pub, let me think a minute....yes please. The grilled corn on a stick delight had a perfect char in spots, covered with a spicy chili crust and cotija cheese. It is served on a plate with fresh cole slaw. I hope they continue this through fall as it is perfect with the lighter ale's...and I don't have to just make it at home! 5 bucks.
One order of black bean dip and chips. I am hard to please with black beans as when they are poorly done (often), they taste like dirt...or worse...complete mush...or...a can. Not here! They were perfectly prepared, of medium mash, topped with avocado cream and topped again with fresh pico de gallo. Served in a good sized bowl with quality homemade fresh chips! The server let us know that we can ask for more chips if the dip outlasted them. It did not. 5 bucks.
Then we split a bacon bison burger. Now, I like bison and we often have it at home, butchered to spec from local farms. The grocery store bison is usually inferior so I hesitate to order it out. But, I took a chance. The bison burger was cooked perfectly, moist without being loaded with fat, bacon jam and blue cheese (Good call), arugula, on a nicely toasted poppyseed bakery bun. It is a fairly small sized burger in comparison to typical pub burgers, but perfect for me. Waffle fries. 13 bucks.
So far, this place gets my vote right now for the most creative, flavorful, thoughtfully prepared, best value, casual food in the 'ham. They truly designed the food around the brew. Someone put some serious thought into the menu. What an unexpected visit!
I am planning to take my Seattle "kids" there Saturday. I am curious as to the loudness level and crowd in there on a weekend. It might be bad. So, I will report back on that if it works out. I wish the seats were more comfy, they look cool. They are tall metal bar stools, the seat is made of a piece of flat wood... Not good for people without a lot of padding in the butt :)
As a follow up, I did take my adult kids there on a Saturday afternoon. We sat outside on the patio. It was fairly crowded. We ordered several different beer tastings, the waiter customized to our preferences (nice!). We also ordered a few different items. The rockfish grilled taco's were deemed as excellent (I thought they were meh) by two of us, the waffle fries poutine with mushroom and herb gravy with Beecher cheese curds were really good.
The adult kids from Seattle pronounced it as a new favorite pub.
Side note: We went to Kushan brewery on Sunday for a similar beer tasting/ pub grub adventure. Really great street food truck food as usual, also good beer, outside seating in the summer is a nice way to spend an hour or so after a hike or shopping. The major difference between the two pub places IMO is total price (the food trucks are really pricy and you have to order a whole "meal") and of course, you are limited in food options depending upon which truck is there. This time, the truck offered sandwiches (and they were exceptional, at that) with no other choices for lighter foods. Luckily, we were all hungry and the food was perfect this time :)
Oh, wow! I haven't been there yet. Only tried the ginger beer at the July 4th beer fest, and it wasn't to my liking. But it sounds like I need to give this place a try and go for a light summer ale.
Do you know if the gravy on the waffle fries was vegetarian? Sounds like it might have been. That would be such a treat for us!!
As far as noise...wow, a lot of new restaurants are ear-splitting loud. The Local is horribly loud (an acquaintance who works with hearing impaired people happened to have a decibel meter on him and took a reading there, reported the noise level was above the level to cause hearing damage!). And, I think I read on here that Rock and Rye is also very loud. Besides the food not being very good, we also find Boundary Bay to be too loud for table conversation, except with the person directly next to you. Wish restaurant owners would start paying some attention to noise levels.
I don't know if the gravy is vegetarian, you would have to clarify, but it is mushroom gravy! They clearly want to please vegetarians and gluten free folks as the menu is crafted that way and states so at the bottom.
I find that refreshing for pub food!
I tried the ginger beer, not my favorite but I really liked several of the light ales and really, really liked the summer one. Nice vibe to the place, I must say.
Okay, funny thing...
I just had dinner Thursday night at Tasty N Alder in Portland. They are well known for their uber "kewl kid" style cuisine and presentations :) I had to chuckle, they now offer elote/Mexican corn on the cob- on the menu for a side. Pretty funny, must be a trend ( funny what turns up as trendy). Of course I ordered it! Taste comparison ON!
It was a bit "deconstructed" in that it had the aioli on the side. Unfortunately, that meant that the cotija cheese didn't stick to it and you had to attempt to spread it on with a knife for each few bites. My partner gave it a slight edge over Aslan's due to a preference for less aioli in general. I gave Aslan's the slight edge for preferring more of the aioli and cheese. The actual taste was remarkably the same.
So, there you have it...'hamsters are kewl kids too ;)