Tracey and I were fortunate enough to get invited up to Glen Mills PA for an Autumn craft beer dinner held by Pescatores Italian Restaurant. The menu looked awesome (Tracey was quick to key on the homemade pumpkin cheese cake) and the selection of beers contained several that we hadn’t had before, so we accepted with great gratitude, and made the trip up on a lovely fall Thursday. Upon arrival, the first thing that greeted us was a sign on the door informing people that the restaurant was closed due to the beer dinner. Pescatores apparently had no problem finding folks like us who thought the dinner looked fantastic, as they had sold out the entire restaurant! We were seated at our table by a courteous hostess and quickly greeted by General Manager Dennis Glick who gave a quick run down on the events of the evening and invited us to make our way to the restaurant’s bar for our first beer selection of the evening.
To get the evening started Pescatores had an offering of two beers to choose from, Long Trail’s Pumpkin Ale, and Magic Hat’s Hex. The Long Trail had a nice pumpkin flavor with a nice hint of spice mixed in. This is a really good pumpkin beer. Hex, which is Magic Hat’s take on a traditional Oktoberfest, gets a flavor twist from the addition of Cherry Wood Smoked Malt and Malted Rye. I really loved this beer with its nice caramel malt and touch of dryness from the rye. I’m not sure if it’s available locally, but you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for it. This was a really great start to the evening.
By the time we were finishing up our beers it was time for the first course; a mango arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese & red onions with a Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing that was paired with a beer I’d never had before, Finch’s Golden Wing Blonde Ale. Brewer Mike Finch was on hand to introduce his beer, which I found to be solidly in the blonde style, although I though it might have had a touch more hop in the flavor than the style usual does. There are definitely citrus notes mixed in with the subtle malt flavor and the beer does end with a nice crisp finish. Probably why the brewery refers to it as a “dirty blonde”. The salad was delicious, the raspberry vinaigrette being something that if I could make it at home, might be just about the only thing I’d ever make to put on my salad.
Next up was Goose Island’s Harvest Ale, which Pescatores chose to pair with a sauteed calamari stuffed with spinach and crab meat in a zesty marinara sauce. I’m going to be honest, I’m not much of a calamari guy, however, crab meat and spinach, yeah that I can get in to. The stuffing was very good with the spinach complementing the sweetness of the crab meet. Add to that the marinara sauce which had an excellent flavor and a nice bite to it and the dish really came together. The Harvest Ale was tasty and showed why it won a bronze medal at last year’s GABF in the Extra Special Bitter category. I love a well made bitter, and if I could have found this at the liquor store today I’d be drinking it while I write this.
I looked at the next course with great interest. Pescatores had opted to pair their Pumpkin Ravioli which was topped with a fresh mushroom cream sauce with Uinta’s Punk’n Ale. When I did my Pumpkin beer round up last year, Uinta’s was one of my favorites, but I was interested to see if the pumpkin in both the beer and the dish would be to much. Punk’n was just as good as I remember it, plenty of perfectly balance pumpkin and spice. The dish was very good with the ravioli having a lovely pumpkin taste that blended well with the sauce that to be honest, I’d have drunk through a straw if I could have. Simply delicious. I found my concerns to be unfounded, as although pumpkin was evident in both the beer and the dish, they were not over powering, and in fact, played well off of each other.
The meat course was next, paired with another beer I hadn’t had, Prism’s Red Zone. Prism has taken the tradition “fall spices” you’d find in a pumpkin beer (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice) and put them in an Irish red ale base. Then they throw in a touch of Pennsylvania maple syrup to round it out. Veal Short Ribs with maple and cinnamon basted baby carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes were paired with it, and the spices and slight sweetness of the beer pair very well with ribs as well as the maple and cinnamon on the carrots.
Finally Tracey had to wait no longer as they brought out the pumpkin cheese cake paired with Troegs’ Java Head stout. The cheese cake was silky and flavorful, and of course paired with what amounts to a 7.5% ABV cup of coffee was the perfect dessert to end our dinner. Sadly, I decided to take a little taste of my cheese cake before I took a picture:
Pescatores out did themselves with this beer dinner. Not only were both the food and beer excellent across the board, but the whole evening was a blast with not only representatives from the breweries showing up to discuss their beers, but on top of all that many local businesses donated prizes that were raffled off during the night. No lie, they gave out a ton of stuff.
I’d like to thank Dennis for hosting Tracey and I for what turned out to be an awesome evening. I also want to give a special shout out to the staff, who were so pleasant and worked their butts off bringing out all the food and beers. Kudos to the kitchen staff for the amazing food, and thanks to the representatives for taking the time to talk about their beers.
I talked to Dennis a few days after the event and he indicated that we can expect more from Pescatores in the future. “We will be having our spring beer dinner in March, and we will be hosting our second ‘Bootlegger’s Ball’, a prohibition themed blow out, in May.” We can wait to see what they have planned in the future!