Revisited: City Beer Hall – Albany, NY
I’ve enjoyed a meal or two at City Beer Hall, so we figured it was worth a revisit one Saturday afternoon when we were hungry.
There was a beer on the menu that I really wanted to check out. It was Grimm Ales Double Negative and was described as “imperial stout with notes of rich chocolate and bitter coffee.”
It was right up my alley. I’m a big fan of Imperial stouts and their higher alcohol content. This is definitely a beer to drink slowly, and it really delivers on the chocolate and bitter coffee flavors in the description. I thought it got better as it sat at room temperature for a little while, but not too long.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the ticket for a mini-pizza with purchase of a beer is an awesome idea. Even if it’s not great pizza, it’s still a fun concept.
As an appetizer, I decided to order something that I didn’t think would play nicely with my beer, mainly because the menu description made it sound irresistable: Poutine – Duck confit, Maplebrook Farms cheddar cheese curds with marjoram and sage chicken gravy $12.
The portion was hefty. Visually, two things drew my attention. The fries seemed kind of thin for poutine; I’m used to something a little more substantial to stand up to being doused in cheese and gravy. The gravy appeared rather clumpy.
Despite the visual perception, the fries stood up to everything in the dish just fine, and remained crispy even at the center after eating away at the dish for a while. They were very aggressively salted to a detriment. The cheese curds were amazing, and having curds of varying sizes helped to vary every bite.
The clumpy gravy was unfortunate. It was barely warm, and the texture was pasty, just like I had expected it to be by looking at it. The flavors of sage and marjoram were strong, and were a bit much in the bites without duck. I had expected shredded duck leg; these chunks were from the breast, and they were dry, not exactly the melt-in-your-mouth texture that I associate with duck confit.
The other item I ordered was more appropriate for my beer: Short rib melt – slow braised short rib with havarti, grafton maple smoked cheddar, caramelized onions & horseradish creme fraiche served on grilled sourdough $12.
The flavors in the sandwich came together nicely. The tender beef seemed much bigger than short rib and reminded me more of brisket; it could have used some seasoning on its own. Everything else on the sandwich was amazing, and having it engulfed in such beautifully toasted sourdough was awesome. The fries were the same ones from the poutine.
Flaws aside, it’s great to know that there are places around like this that like to try different combinations of ingredients and keep an inspired and evolving menu.