Friday, March 27, 2009

Gastronomy in New Albany? You might as well get used to it.

Yesterday I chewed over a few ruminations gleaned from the ongoing kitchen rollout at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Bank Street Brewhouse: It's exactly because "different" isn't the "same."

Last evening I sampled the Flat Iron Steak with an Asparagus Salad, accompanied by an Oaktimus (Hoptimus aged with oak chips) dating from early 2008. Speaking with approximate objectivity, it may have been the best all-around meal I've had in an American brewpub, bar none -- and I've been to quite a few.

Yes, the intention was to have a continental, Belgian-cafe-style kitchen. Two weeks into the Brewhouse's existence, we've transcended that simple ideal by an Old Country mile. This has occurred because we had the chance to work with Chef Josh Lehman, whose vision and dedication should be obvious. Admittedly, it's the polar opposite of the menu at the Public House and Pizzeria, and for some, that fact has been an impediment. Happily, the scene at Grant Line is the same as it ever was.

Meanwhile, at Bank Street, we're all working as hard as we can to disseminate information about when we're open, what food is available and when, and a hundred other things that every start-up has to resolve. The brewery's coming within a month, and then another chapter begins. Exterior finishing work is set to resume.

The point to me is this: It hasn't progressed in the way I imagined, but it's far, far better than what I ever envisioned, which makes a very strong case for the collaborative theory of management as illustrated by our team. Our traditional location is utterly unique, and so is the new one. Our collective mandate has been to challenge, not pander, and my personal goal is to make the world aware of the possibilities of pairing first-rate cuisine with equally top-notch brewing. We're already heading toward fruition in these areas, and it's only just begun.

In fact, the only dissonance heard so far is the familiar variation on the crippling, self-loathing lament native to the vicinity: You can't do that in New Albany, and you shouldn't even try.

Bullshit. Why not?

My question, then, is what word do we coin to describe what we're doing? The one that seems closest in the "gastropub" in Brit-speak, as defined by Wikipedia.

A gastropub (or gastro pub) is a British term for a public house which specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic "pub grub." The name is a combination of pub and gastronomy and was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben opened a pub called The Eagle in Clerkenwell, London.[1][2] The concept "helped create a truly British culinary scene" and "arose from a conscious effort to promote great food in well-loved places."[2] Gastropubs have been described as the Anglo-equivalent of the French brasserie or the Japanese izakaya [3]
The problem with "gastropub" is that Americans only hear the prefix when it is associated with stomach viruses, "gastronomy" being a little used word in Big Buford Land.

Any thoughts? Thanks to all readers so far who get it. Your patronage is appreciated very, very much.

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At NAC: Dinner menu at Bank Street Brewhouse tonight ... and a special Elector on the handpull.

1 comment:

Mike said...

bravo, roger. haven't been to bank street yet, but have been hearing echoes of magically good things coming out of the kitchen.

i will take this time to whine about missing schlenkerla's fastenbier as well as the founders ky breakfast stout.

solidarity,
mike