Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Loves

A love of ethnic food and a love of craft beer can often be two loves that are hard to bring together. Take your favorite Mexican restaurant. They probably have a liquor license, but you’re also probably relegated to a selection consisting of Mexican beers and macro beers. What about your favorite Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant? Mine can be hit or miss with a liquor license at all and the beer selection is generally wanting, Ngon being a HUGE exception to that rule. Heck, even two of my favorite BBQ joints don’t sell beer.

So that leaves one to make the decision between good beer and good food. Most of the time that’s a tough decision and one that might be decided by the proximity of the provider of one love to the provider of the other love. In all honesty, though, I’m usually willing to compromise on the food if the beer selection is good enough.

But the two loves can coexist at a couple of places in St. Paul. Places that put their energy into making great food. Places that aren’t interested in raping their customers with corkage charges rivaling the actual cost of the beverage. Places that are quite comfortable with patrons bringing in their own beer and wine to enjoy with their meal.

One of those places is Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant (the first Kurdish restaurant to open in the U.S.). Babani’s resides just a few blocks away from Great Waters so in theory, one could get some great Kurdish food and some great craft beer all in one evening. And that would be ok, but being able to select your own beers and bring them in to have right alongside the great Kurdish food, well, that is downright excellent!

Saturday night before catching the final bout of the North Star Roller Girls at Roy Wilkins, the eight of us stopped at Babani’s. A few of us had been there before and had enjoyed the cuisine immensely. The others were Kurdish virgins but trusted us enough not to steer them wrong. Previously we hadn’t been aware of the ability to BYOB, but thanks to a commenter on the Heavy Table post about the dowjic (which by the way is AMAZING), we were clued in this time.

As can be expected with this group, we brought way more than we needed but one never knows just how thirsty one might become during the course of a meal. We had a great selection of beers to choose from and the restaurant was happy to let us imbibe, even when the cork from a bottle of highly carbonated beer exited from the bottle with such force that it managed to hit the vaulted ceiling. They didn’t have to be troubled with maintaining an inventory of beer and we didn’t have to be troubled with a selection that was sub-par. A win-win all around.

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