West 4th/ Jane hosted a special evening last week, featuring signature dishes of new chef Ryan Turner paired with the Belgian-style craft beers of New York brewery Ommegang. Promising a night of “true to style” beers and the intense flavors of perfect pub food, it was an illuminating experience that showed a novel approach applied to classic pub fare.
The pub itself is run by a pair of New Yorkers and certainly has the feel of a busy midtown watering hole. Specialty beers are the order of the day, with the menu changing constantly, and it’s a great place to set yourself at the mercy of your bartender and check out a flight of entirely new flavors. But don’t be surprised if you run into some old friends you’ve met while travelling – the presence of my beloved Abita Turbodog from New Orleans is sure to send me racing back before long.
Chef Turner is a relatively recent transplant from Portland, having built his resume at hotpots like Saucebox, Screen Door and Noble Rot, and most recently finished a stint at Vu in Marina Del Rey. The offerings at this tasting event showed a deft hand with classic flavors, and a playful approach to conception. Turner’s “sexed-up” play on fried chicken and waffles, made with quail, was delicate and surprising. The crisp, perfect waffle was unsweetened, even a little salty, while the chicken was smeared with a luscious maple – a clever deconstruction that didn’t even look like one.
Ommegang Brewery of Cooperstown, NY – once the “Hops Capital Of America” – provided libations ranging from a crisp Witte to a sweet, complex Abbey-style. The Rare Vos, paired with Turner’s pork trio known as the Three Little Pigs, was a favorite of the night, and was proclaimed by co-owner Steve Lieberman as “one of my top five American beers right now.”
While the pairing dinner isn’t yet a regular event, it was tasty enough that we’d recommend you go in for a copcyat dinner – order up the hamachi crudo with a Witte, beet salad with Hennepin, quail and waffles with Abbey, the pork trio with the Rare Vos, and if you’re feeling ponderous after all that, a glass of Seven Philosophers Ale with the lemon posset. You’ll find the harmony that comes from a thoughtful combination of two quality halves.