Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First National Taphouse 5-Course Beer Dinner

First National Taphouse, now a two-location chain that started in Eugene, recently opened its doors near Portland State University in downtown. With a menu that is chock full of delicious-sounding dishes, 30 beers on tap plus a beer cooler that rivals many bottle shops in terms of size and quality, @FNTHPDX is starting off on the right foot.

Last night I had the opportunity to check them out in the form of a five course beer pairing dinner. While I was hoping to try the Irish Rarebit I'd seen on a pre-visit menu perusal, the plates that were placed in front of me more than made up for not trying it (for now).
Course 1: Prawn Boule with Wild Ride Brewing Whoopty Whoop Wheat
Appropriately sized for an appetizer, a fist-sized potato roll was hollowed out and filled with a generous portion of praws, burnoise vegetables and brandy nosh. The beer, one I probably wouldn't order on its own, was almost too much for the delicate prawns but the spirit of the pairing was obvious and I enjoyed tasting the new-to-me Wild Ride Brewing.

Course 2: Artisan Cheese Terrine with Duche De Longueville Cidre Antoinette
When first looked at the menu this was the course I was most looking forward to, both because CHEESE! and because I've been very pleased with the French ciders I've had up to this point. The pairing overall was outstanding (including the Asian pear slices) with my only complaint that I would have liked more of the Barbander Goat Gouda and Ancient Heritage Hannah. The house-made ricotta was a creamy compliment to the other two cheeses and the presentation unique.

Course 3: Honey Root Vegetable Boxty with Elysian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Ale
This was my least favorite course, both the food and the beer, but not because they weren't well-crafted, just that the flavors are not those that I enjoy. The boxty was an Irish potato pancake topped with sliced parsnip, spiced honey and julienned carrot and yellow beet. Without the parsnip I would have loved it but that's just me. As for the beer, after having recently been blown away by Elysian Punkuccino, The Great Pumpkin was just too assertively spiced for my palate.

Course 4: Whiskey Pepper Steak Frite with Oskar Blues Deviant Dale on Nitro
As far as I'm concerned you can never go wrong with an appropriately seasoned and cooked-to-order steak (rare for me). The pepper crusted hanger steak slices were delicious and while I would have eaten an entrée-sized portion happily, the portion was perfect for a multi-course dinner. As with the first course the beer almost overpowered the food but Deviant Dales on nitro is a rare thing I fully enjoyed.

Course 5: Chocolate Porter Ice Cream Foam and Hazelnut Brittle with Young's Double Chocolate Stout
The final course followed the others in size, just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. This was my first encounter with foam and I found the texture to be just slightly more dense than actual beer foam - ingenious! Even better, the salty brittle was amazing with the beer. Plus, edible (I assumed) glitter.

Thanks to First National Taphouse for the invitation as their location is not one on my regular flight path and especially to our wonderful server, Joe. I look forward to coming back for a happy hour (aka Bankers Hour), dinner or perhaps even brunch sometime soon.

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