On this year's trip to Kansas City, my friend Josh and I made a great discovery... The Belfry, a new bar located in the Crossroads. We loved it so much we went five of the eight nights we were in town. And on our final night, a beer dinner pairing the fine food of Celina Tio and beers of Jolly Pumpkin brewery.
Consider this Part II of my account of my trip to Kansas City during Craft Beer Week.
Part I: Kansas City and Craft Beer Week
Part III: Kansas City and Hammerpress
Some of that went right out the window as soon as we found The Belfry. With their fantastic craft beer and spirits selection, great service, yummy food, and laid back clientele, it was hard to want to go elsewhere. The highlight for me was the baked rigatoni with house-made sausage and ricotta. If you're lucky, Chef Tio will grab a bar stool next you and chat about her food recommendations, her love for white v-neck tees, and how the 20-year Pappy Van Winkle is better than the 23-year.
That's how we also learned about her dinner collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. I thought Josh was going to fall off his chair upon hearing this, since he is huge fan of sour beers. And so, thanks again to Chef Tio, we found our way at her adjoining restaurant, Collection, to enjoy our last night in Kansas City with a memorable beer dinner. It was really interesting to be able to hear, from Chef Tio, about how the dinner menu evolved and to learn, from Jolly Pumpkin founder Ron Jeffries, about some of the stories behind each beer. Sorry if my notes are a bit vague here.
Course 1: White pepper compressed melon, grilled haloumi cheese. Paired with Jolly Pumpkin Los Vivos y Los Muertos Saison. Delicious and refreshing. A perfect combo of sweet and salty to start off the meal. The sour was good but better, in my humble opinion, with the melon and cheese pairing. The pumpkin and lime flavors were barely detectable.
Course 2: Garbanzo bean polenta, raw vegetable salad, olive oil. Paired with Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO. Chick pea polenta? Yes, fantastic. The ale pairing was perrrrfect, not as floral as I was expecting, and one of my faves of the evening. Note to self: drink more saisons.
Course 3: Curried rice and lentils with herbed yogurt sauce. Paired with Jolly Pumpkin Ale Absurd. The flavors of the beer, tart and crisp, balanced out the creamy earthiness of this dish. Those who know me well might be shocked to know that I ate lentils. I ate the whole damn bowl and loved it.
Course 4: Seared ribeye with shishito peppers, kumquat, and maggi. Paired with Jolly Pumpkin Saizon Z. My fave course of the evening. I just love spicy and sweet with beef. Although I prefer my beef more rare, the textures and flavors were spot on. The saison was citrusy, mirrored the kumquat flavor, and a perfect accompaniment for the steak.
Course 5: Chocolate truffle. Paired with Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura. Chef Tio admitted that she really felt the stout was dessert enough. The truffles were messy, gooey, and finger-licking good. The stout was dark and complimented the cocoa flavors well but, at that point in the meal, it was a bit much for me.
It was AWESOME! RT @OfficialRonJ: @jollypumpkin @TheBelfryLounge beer dinner about to begin! pic.twitter.com/0uHqywzXuK
— The Belfry (@TheBelfryLounge) June 18, 2014
Can you spot me in the crowd? Thanks to Chef Celina Tio, Ron Jeffries, The Belfry/Collection staff, and Josh for helping to make my Kansas City stay such a great time.