Friday, March 26, 2010

I Always Get Hungry. . .

when I watch others work.

After a gruelling morning of supervising bronze pouring at Bronzesmith, I was ready for lunch. Maybe it was some of the bronze sculptures by Lincoln Fox (below) in the gallery or maybe it was the hour, but food beckoned.

Fortunately, Chuck had spent some time Googling restaurants in Prescott, AZ, and had identified the Prescott Brewing Company as a strong contender for our lunch destination. I think it was the chicken pot pie that initially got his attention.

Prescott Brewing Company is a full service restaurant/brewery located in the heart of historic downtown Prescott (shown on the left in the first floor of the Bashfod Courts building) and is independently owned and operated by its original owners, John and Roxane Nielsen.

We thought the building was a former department store. Our table was in a "courtyard" with shops above us

and to the side. Shoppers could get a good look at our menu selections as they passed by during the lunch hour.

Established in 1994, PBC has garnered national and international awards for its handcrafted beers and produces over 40 styles throughout the year. The restaurant’s kitchen produces ninety-nine percent of the menu offerings.

Since 2000, the brewing company has been continuously voted in the Top Ten Microbreweries in Arizona by Ranking Arizona Magazine, having garnered the top spot in 2001, 2004, and 2009. Their beers have won twenty-six national and international awards in such prestigious competitions as the Great American Beer Festival, North American Brewers Association, and the international World Beer Cup.

Wanting to sample one of the brewery’s beers, we each decided to order the Alpine Wheat to sip while looking over the menu. This is described as a German hefe-weizen—a traditional unfiltered wheat beer with the aroma and flavour of cloves, banana and nutmeg. As with wines, I can’t pick out these nuances. All I can say is that this was a light and refreshing beer which would be wonderful on a ninety-degree day.

The restaurant’s menu covers all the traditional bases from “munchies” to burgers to pizza to sandwiches. It was the pub offerings that had caught Chuck’s initial attention and here is where we both looked. Again, too many interesting choices.

We could have: the Bistro Steak and Chips—a traditional red wine marinated Bistro Tender grilled and served over mustard sauce with pub chips and garlic aioli; the Portered Portabello—a marinated grilled mushroom sandwich topped with feta cheese and portered onions and served on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce with creamy mustard dressing with the choice of pub chips, coleslaw, cottage cheese or hot applesauce; the Settler's Pot Pie, which includes tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, yams, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses baked with fresh herbs in a mushroom sauce and served with a side salad and beer bread.

While Chuck came for the Chicken Pot Pie, he chose the Bangers & Mash – two English-style banger sausages simmered in ale and served with red skin mashers and gravy with house-made beer mustard, beer bread. To start, he chose the special soup of the day which proved to be an extraordinary black bean soup thick with pork shreds, beans, celery, onions, carrots, and red bell pepper and generously seasoned with smoky cumin. He declared this better than the black bean soup at Shelby’s Bistro in Tubac, AZ.

The Bangers & Mash were the ultimate in pub grub. The two sausages had been cooked in beer and then tossed on a hot grill to produce the diagonal grill marks and smoky grilled flavour. The very large portion of mash was a potato fiend's dream come true. This was one of those plates where the tastes merged seamlessly.

I decided to start with the house soup, a thick Tomato and Mushroom Bisque. This contained small tomato dices and a profusion of larger mushroom slices in a base thick with grated parmesan cheese and seasoned with oregano. I normally don’t order soup. I need to leave room for dessert, you know. But I am certainly glad that I did this time.

My entree choice was the Blue Mussels Steamed in Cream Ale. This proved to be a full pound (or well over thirty if one is counting) of Chilean blue mussels steamed in the brewery’s Lodgepole Light with Italian sausage, garlic, bell peppers, onion, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro and served with three thick slices of garlic ciabatta bread. The mussels were not large like the New Zealand Green Mussels. Rather, they were slightly larger than a cherrystone clam and were sweet and tender. The accompanying thick broth provided the perfect use for the ciabatta. If I have one criticism, I would rather have had the Italian sausage in larger chunks than the crumbled pieces. This way the flavours of the mussels and sausage would have been more distinct. But this is certainly a minor criticism.

It was time for dessert, but neither of us could eat another morsel. Maybe some other time.

Chuck deserves the all of the credit for finding this 4.5 Addie restaurant. Maybe I’ll let him assume the role of food finder.

One last farewell to Bronzesmith. This bronze sculpture by Caroline Caprio caught our eye. We have re-visited yesterday's entry to see other works that created quite an impression on us.

But then there was this sculpture in the courtyard . . . .

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