Not too Chambly: Unibroue beer dinner at Light Horse Restaurant<img class="size-medium wp-image-11454" title="First course" src="http://diningindc.net/wp-content/uploads/2012
/06/First-course-224×300.jpg” alt=”" width=”224″ height=”300″ />Fettucini paird with Unibroue’s Blanche de Chambly
I submit to you the sweetest phrase I have ever known: Five course dinner with beer pairings. The phrase invokes thoughts of cuisine comas and hoppy happiness. I recently had the pleasure of indulging in both at a dinner featuring Unibroue, the highly decorated French Canadian brewery at The Light Horse Restaurant (715 King St.), located in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria.
After a cab ride that involved an argumentative driver and a Presidential motorcade (always in the way when you are actually trying to go somewhere), I finally arrived at The Light Horse. Nestled in cozy Old Town Alexandria, The Light Horse (named after Revolutionary patriot “Light Horse” Harry Lee) is a delightful and charming two-floor restaurant and bar. While the downstairs dining room is on the smaller side, the comfortable atmosphere truly enhanced the experience.
The Light Horse’s trendy, comfortable dining room features a intimate bar while the energetic bar scene upstairs is part neighborhood hot spot and sports bar, including 10 HD TV’s, and is a favorite late night hang-out for locals — a one stop for good food and fun with pool tables, shuffleboard, nightly live music, and interactive games.
Our Unibroue Beer Pairing Menu for the evening went as follows:
First Course: Boquerones, Fresh Tomato Sauce, Torn Herbs, Chilled Fettucini, Gremolata
with Unibroue’s Blanche de Chambly (Belgian white ale)
Second Course: Local Goat Cheese Tart, Late Spring Vegetables, Cider Vinaigrette
with Unibroue’s Éphémère (White ale brewed with apple must)
Third Course: Shrimp a la plancha, Hudson Valley Foie Gras Bisque, Kombu Gelee
with Unibroue’s Maudite (Strong amber-red ale)
Main Course: Braised Rabbit, Crème Fraiche, Dijon, Glazed Baby Carrots, and English Peas
with Unibroue’s La Fin du Mondu (Triple-style golden ale)
Spiced Rum Bundt Cake, Dark Chocolate Ganache, Italian Meringue, Candied Peanuts with Unibroue’s La Terrible (Belgian strong dark ale)
Have you ever been to a movie where they blow you out of the water with the first scene? Where you get instantly hooked and refuse to leave your seat? Our first course, of Boquerones, Fresh Tomato Sauce, Torn Herbs, Chilled Fettucini, with Gremolata was the gastronomical equivalent of that. Light Horse’s executive chef, Adam Stein, formerly of Queen Vic’s started the guests off one right foot. The crisp and slight citrus notes of the Blanche de Chambly paired well with each bite of the Boquerones (fresh anchovy filets). Moreover, the fresh herbs sprinkled on the dish perfectly complimented the aroma and sweet taste of the beer. It was hands down my favorite pairing. We were off to a great start and the beer dinner guests were already enjoying themselves.
Although all the dishes that followed were impressive and stood out in their own way, the head-on shrimp a la plancha was …wait for it … a head above the rest (I know, I know). Fortunately I have no qualms about staring my dinner in the eye, so I was able to enjoy the succulent flavors of each bite. The shrimp were balanced perfectly by the Maudite, Unibroue’s strong amber-red ale, and were accompanied by a foie gras bisque that left one of my fellow diners declaring they were “in love.” Even if the idea of foie gras scares you, I assure you that the taste defeats that fear.
The main course featured braised rabbit atop glazed baby carrots, and English peas. Rabbit is still a new meat for me, but chef Stein prepared it perfectly. It was very tender, and literally just fell off the bone. While I am generally not a large fan of Triple-style beers, La Fin du Monde won me over. I was expecting to be overpowered by sweetness (typical of many other beers of this style), but was greeted by reasonable hints of citrus and apricot. Great pairing.
Our meal concluded with the delightfully surprising spiced rum bundt cake. It was very moist, and it was quite decadent with a forkful of dark chocolate ganache. La Terrible was a wise (I can’t pun twice in a night) choice for a pairing with this dessert. The beer has a very bold malty flavor with hints of plum, which went well with each bite. I think the note we left on the plate (see the picture) sums up the course. Just be careful if you ever order this beer, as you will not notice just how strong the beer is (10.5% ABV) due to the flavors.
The evening ended with owner John Jareki bringing out the Chefs and sharing his thanks with all in attendance. This was Light Horse’s second beer pairing dinner under new(ish) Chef Adam Stein, and it will hopefully not be the last! If you find yourself heading to Old Town Alexandria, stop in and enjoy Light Horse. While you will not have a 5 course dinner every night, you are in store for good beer, great food, and a pleasant atmosphere. For more information, visit their website and be sure to ask when their next beer dinner will be!
Guest post by the newest Dining in DC Contributor, Sean O’Brien