The Publick House

Grab a drink while you wait
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  July 23, 2008
2.0 2.0 Stars

Carbonade à la Flamande ($15) is classic beer cuisine, a slow stew of grilled sliced meat with onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, and lots of ale. I expected it to be bitter; instead, the gravy was sweet and sour. A green salad ($3) featured leaves of various greens in a deep bowl with a light dressing. It was rather a bargain.

There are no desserts. There are, however, sweet beers, though the menu tempts one to explore some of the wilder reaches of the brewing universe: lambic, gueuze, rye beer, eisbock, weizen-doppelbock, biere de Champagne. The lengthy and descriptive beer list explains what all of these things are. The last, for example, is a Belgian ale that’s brewed in Belgium, then shipped to the Champagne region of France to be re-fermented in Champagne bottles by the local method (freezing the necks and removing the spent yeast). This reportedly adds another layer of flavor, and certainly adds some alcohol.

To build the appetite for exotic brewskis, the main room is decorated with promotional beer material. My favorite is the poster for Scaldis Belgian Ale, which clocks in at 12 percent alcohol: “Deliciously strooth. Reassuringly smong.” After some of these unusual beers, you could look at that poster for a long time trying to figure it out.

There are also outdoor tables and a special tasting room called the Monk’s Cell. The whole space, which used to be the Tam, has some of the old woodwork that’s been turned into a semi-Gothic theme that suits the idea of monasteries, where many Belgian ales and cheeses are crafted. The lamps and a few arch decorations follow this theme, while Tuscan yellow walls and copper-color pillars and booths made from old pews do not disrupt it.

It is not, however, one of the silent orders. This place is loud. There’s background music, though only a bass player could identify the songs; it all tends to sound like the Clash. One song even had the bass line from “London Calling,” but I’m not betting the farm, or even the spare storage cask, on this identification.

Robert Nadeaucan be reached

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