I have occasionally passed by the Town Hall Brewery, and usually barely notice it. However, upon reading some food blog recently (can't remember which one!) and hearing they have goat cheese nacho's, I decided I should probably get there ASAP.
Last weekend, Mr. H and I found ourselfs a-hungerin' AND a-thirstin, and we immediately decided on Town Hall. This is quite the accomplishment, considering it takes us around an hour (sometimes 2) to decide where to eat. Really, it's ridiculous. I will admit, - I looked at the menu online beforehand (they have a pretty nice website) and found immediately what I wanted. Something that I've not seen elsewhere! We'll get to that later.
Mr. H picked me up around 1030 PM. I was pleased to hear they serve food until midnight. That's a must for late night diners like myself and Mr. H. Off we went, to the West Bank for some eats. No parking lot, but they do have a ramp nearby that costs like 5 bucks. Kind of a bummer, but expected in that area. When we arrived, we walked all around the place to scope it out. There's a bar and dining tables in the first room when entering, really just a basic set up - but very cozy. There's additional seating in the back, one area even has a couch around a table, but we found it too bright for our tastes. So we sat at the front at a regular table.
Of course, the first thing we look at are drink/wine/beer menu's. They have quite a unique selection of brews, being a brewery and all. Things such as "Duchesse Bourgogne"
(6.0% abv. Traditional Flemish red ale from Belgium. Matured in oak casks for up to 12 months. Flavors include passion fruit, chocolate and an acidic finish. Served in 10 ounce glass only.) Or the "Tripel Vision" (8.0% abv. Smooth and rereshing Belgen style Tripel. Light in color and body and loaded with rich fruity untones.)
I decided to stick with my regular cocktail, while Mr. H opted for one of their blueberry brews (not listed on the website, booo!) I've only had one MN brewed blueberry beer, which is quite good. This blueberry beer was 10 times better. It wasn't too sweet. Blueberries are actually quite deep and mellow in flavor, and this beer captured that. It had a lightly toast/malt finish that was just fantastic. I'm not a big beer drinker, so the 10 oz pour in a medium sized, stemmed beer glass is perfect for beer wimps like me. I had some major drink envy going on.
Town Hall does offer 64 oz. growlers (those big old containers you can fill up with their beer and take home) for $13, but unfortunately this beer is not included in the list. HUGE bummer. However, they DO offer a ber flight with all their regular beers (5 of 'em) for $9. Mr H also ordered their scotch ale- "Hope and King Scotch Ale" (6.0% abv. Bronze Medal Winner 2002 and 2004 Great American Beer Festival. Our interpretation of the classic ale that originated in Glasgow, Scotland. A full-body ale, rich in malt complexity. Brewed with both English and American barley and many, many specialty malts allowing hints of roasted chocolate, caramel and raisins with very little hop presence) which IS offered in a growler, and also quite good.
For their food, they have a pretty basic bar menu, but with some twists. For appetizers, they have things such as pretzels, goat cheese nacho's (which I WILL try someday!!!) and sweet potato fries. They have burgers (Greek Burger: An old favorite… grilled ½ lb. burger topped with crumbled Feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce 8.25), sandwiches (Mango Shredded Chicken: Slow roasted and shredded spicy chicken, topped with melted pepper jack cheese, served with a
side of mango salsa 7.95) and some entree's (Roasted Half Chicken: Semi-boneless half chicken slow roasted with garlic and fresh herbs—served with our signature mashed potatoes and today’s vegetable 12.95.)
What really caught my eye was the pasta's. Too often, I see a pasta or two on a menu, like a mere afterthought. This place had some good looking pasta's for a brewery/bar. Such as the Buffalo Chicken Penne with grilled chicken (Town Hall’s special Buffalo cream sauce, roasted red peppers and diced tomatoes. Garnished with crumbled blue cheese 10.95) When I saw it, I wanted to sing. I love love love anything "buffalo", and to see it on a pasta excited and scared me all at once. With no further ado!
Buffalo Chicken Penne Pasta
Where does one begin when they feel such admiration for something? Do they start with the absolute perfection of the al dente penne? How it bounced off his/her teeth, and was sturdy and utterly satisfying? Do they gush about the stunning marriage of creamy and spicy in the sauce? Does he/she ponder how they captured the beauty of buffalo sauce...in a pasta? Would one tell you how they were scared of the muscle that bleu cheese boasts, but were delighted to find it added an excellent sharpness to the entire dish? I would imagine one would say all that. He/she would also add that the chicken was not cubed, not chunked; but pieced. Slightly charred in places, giving you a crispy bit of burnt skin ever so often, driving home the point that the stuff had to have been grilled. I am willing to bet hard earned money that one would testify to this being their new favorite pasta ever. I will also caution any rich food adversaries against this, as it was VERY rich.
Mr. H decided upon the Big Burrito (choice of shredded chicken, steak or roasted pork with cilantro rice, black beans, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and Town Hall’s green chili burrito sauce 7.95) and he chose the pork variety immediately. It was a night of no hesitations for us!
Lots of pleasing things in this monster. Cilantro rice, which actually had hints of cilantro against all the other stuff in the burrito. Their salsa and guac are also good. The guac tasted very fresh, and salsa was not too spicy, garlicky or smokey (all salsa no-no's in Ruby's food world.) The pork was shredded, and was very savory. Mr. H tried his best, but only got 3/4 through the beast, which made me realize how much this guy actually ate.
Icing on the cake time. Most of you (all one of you who actually reads this!) are thinking..o0o0o0, dessert! Nope. The scotch menu. It's delightful. They have everything from Glemorangie to Oban, and offer pours in either petite (1.5 oz.) or full (3 oz...i think) which I think is wonderful. I kind of loathe places that have strict standards on pours. Like, their shots can only be 1.5 oz etc, and the d-bag bartenders actually measure them and shit. This way, you can have a little or a lot, and still keep it on the cheap. Mr. H got a 10 year old Glenfarclas, single malt in the petite pour for around $7 I believe. Not too shabby! I'm not a scotch person, and I even liked this scotch. The glass they serve it in is awesome - its an elegant little scotch glass, with dents in the sides for your fingertips. I wanted to steal it, but unfortunately could not since we only ordered one.
Overall? LOVED IT. And next time, will get goat cheese nacho's!