Beer dinner at Ballantine in Willoughby
|The menu and the dishes — with some fancy Instagram filtering.|
Course by courseThe Citrus Arugula Salad was perfectly balanced flavor and texture. I was scraping the plate with my fork to try to get every last bit of prosciutto and citrus vinaigrette.
The Braised Pork Sliders — wow. I am pretty sure I said "Oh my god, these are amazing" with my mouth full more than once while eating these. A big fan of onions, I would have preferred a bit more of the "cotton onion" on my sliders. Also probably a bit more of the cole slaw. But the serving size was big enough, given the amount of food we were served (and beer).
The Righteous Chili was exactly how I like chili made — hearty with a spice that you doesn't hit you immediately. I couldn't detect any of the chocolate (my boyfriend good), but still enjoyed it.
The Coffee Rubbed Duck came to the table when I started feeling full. I actually had to pause before finishing the duck — and skipped some of the veggies on the plate to ensure I had room for dessert. I do not ever see myself cooking duck, and am not sure if I would regularly order it in a restaurant, but I was definitely looking forward to this. The meat was a little raw for my liking; though it tasted fine, the texture took me a minute to adjust to. But the coffee rub on it was incredible. And the cranberry redux? I'm probably going to be dreaming about that. If this dish lands a spot on Ballantine's menu, I definitely will be ordering it on a future visit.
The Pecan Ball was tasty and light — which was good after finishing the previous four courses and their accompanying beers. But it also was the most ordinary dish of the five. I could make this at home, which may be why it initially jumped out at me on the menu. I didn't not enjoy any of the courses, but this one was my least favorite, probably because it was so simple.
The beerAs I said earlier, the beer wasn't exactly my style, but all of it was good. The Levitation Amber Ale is probably the only one I would order on its own in the future, but that's just my taste. The others went perfectly with the dishes and were, to me, enjoyable in that context. I think my boyfriend actually might have been a bit impressed that I drank some hoppy varieties, which normally I avoid or taste before quickly swigging my own beverage.
More, please!Our server let us know that more beer dinners are planned in February, March and April:
- Bells Beer Dinner on Feb. 10
- Southern Tier Beer Dinner on March 10
- Jackie-O's Beer Dinner on April 14
I thought she had said the Jackie-O's dinner wasn't set yet, but I sure hope it is! They're brewing some good stuff in Athens, and I would love to see what Ballantine will cook up to pair with the beer.
Like Ballantine on Facebook to keep updated on future beer dinner plans. Maybe I will see you there!