Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beer Table, Park Slope

It's difficult not to love a place where the food menu is so brusque and the beer menu is so lovingly rendered. Yes you can have baked eggs, waffles and bacon. No you can't have orange juice. You can have water or even maybe ginger beer, but only because it's got beer in the name. There's no messing around with sunny-side-up, no-foam-skim-latte type pandering to A-type New Yorkers. Nor is there any pussy-footing with calories and lean alternatives. The bacon is cut thick and fatty, like the quivering hunks that Yorkshire vet James Herriot gets offered by grateful farmers after he delivers a breached calf or two. And it tastes damn good.

If you're after a liquid brunch, however, it's a totally different story. Alongside the rotating drafts and the three suggested "breakfast brews" (cover your ears, you temperance ministers and sun-over-the-yardarmers) there is a daily menu, which blends from light ("pear, white bread, amiable") to dark ("chocolate, tobacco, hedonistic"). For someone like me, who tastes with their language centre as much as with their tongue, it was skillful beery propaganda. Conveniently forgetting that I don't much like taste of hops, I let my eyes linger over the descriptions. Mixed in among the fruits and floral notes were more intriguing influences, moods and feelings, inedible objects and abstract expressions. What, say, was "funk",outside of a 70s disco context, and did I really want my drink to have it?

We were there to cadge some swing-top bottles to pour our homebrew into. When the flubberiest bit of rind had finally defeated us we left, empties in tow, vowing to come back for one of their beer tastings. Yet still our Grapefruit Ale sits in its glass bottle, stowed away at the top of our wardrobe, the sediment forming a sinister off-white layer at the bottom. If only old Herriot were around, with a tub of hot water and his bag of stainless steel implements, to help us birth our firstborn brew. We could even take him for bacon in Beer Table to say thank-you.

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