By James Reddicliffe
“Here he comes, Cathy’s Clown,” the Everly Brothers sang over the speakers as I took my seat at Mekelburg’s in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. I was there for a special event, a six-course tasting menu, paired with beers from Interboro Ales and Spirits, and to enjoy some old fashioned, father-son bonding time. I had never been to Mekelburg’s and was eager to see what they were all about. I had heard tales of the world’s best chocolate babka, excellent local beer and top-notch eats from people in the neighborhood, and of course, couldn’t resist checking it out.
As the crowd settled in their seats, a Mekelburg’s employee introduced the event and laid out a few simple ground rules. Essentially, have fun and keep your silverware, which was good advice. Directly following, Jesse Ferguson of Interboro spoke a bit about his brewery and then the festivities began in earnest.
This meal, priced at $99.00/ person was as indulgent as one might imagine. A diner next to us remarked, “I think I just got gout” toward the end of dinner and by the time the second dessert came around most people were going to need wheelbarrows to get back to their apartments. It started innocently enough, though, with a creamy sunchoke panna cotta that paired beautifully with the New Deveonhaime ale that Jesse described as a “workingman’s ale meant for easy drinking.”
The second course was a house-made head cheese crostini served with Mad Fat Method, a double dry hopped IPA. Man alive, was that an outstanding combo. The head cheese was salty and delicious and the double IPA, well, it went to your head. The balance of sweet and salty and fruity was near perfection. It would have been perfect, had there been something other than napkins to eat it on. There was head cheese shrapnel everywhere. It gave new meaning to the phrase “hog heaven.”
Next up was a scallop in pumpkin Thai curry; the scallop was crisp and seared nicely, and was complemented well by the Full Time IPA but at this point the dish could have been slightly less rich.
And then, a merguez sausage dish with cucumber riata. The merguez was one of the best I’ve had--spicy and snappy but not overly so-- and made an excellent partner to a much-needed session ale.
Up until this point, people at our table had mostly kept to themselves after polite introductions but beer has a charming way of opening people up. Things grew animated as we discussed New York sports, other breweries we liked and whether elastic denim is allowed in chic Brooklyn neighborhoods. Nobody could agree on whether being a Mets or Nationals fan was more painful.
There was a long time between the merguez and the first dessert-- a poached pear with seared foie gras, caramel and pistachio. The lively atmosphere made the wait pleasant and nobody seemed too frustrated, but two or three innings of the World Series playing on the TV were completed before it arrived. The foie gras was delivered in concert with an egg cream made of chocolate babka, and whiskey from, Arcane Distilling, which was brewed from an Interboro stout. Both were incredibly delicious, but neither could be finished in full by almost anyone in the room. Alright, maybe a few hungry beer writers…
Things settled down, and people began to talk about heading home, but not before cheesecake and the stout mentioned above. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, this was a decadent meal. The cheesecake/stout pairing was so good the room got mostly silent while everyone contemplated how many Tums they were going to take when they got to their apartments.
Full, head swimming happily with beer, and walking home dissecting the night with my dad the conclusion was clear. For the money, could they have had plates for that crostini? Sure. Was the evening a delicious, engaging and a fun treat? Absolutely.