Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
We love dining out with our friends, especially when we take them to place they have never heard of and get them to eat foods they would never eat on their own. So when our friend Joe Bello, Chef at The Wooden Nickel invited us to a special beer dinner we immediately asked a few couples if they would be interested in attending with us. Well 2 couples said they would join us, Dan and Courtney, and Homar and Krystal. We all loaded up in the car and made the “endless journey” out to our least favorite part of the city, Monroeville (Even typing out the word sends chills down my spine! Blah!). But, we love Joe and The Nickel, so the drive is only mildly painful. We have written about the Nickel and Joe before so we will skip our usual description of the joint and cuisine. I would also like to note that is was good to see Joe in a dirty Chef’s coat, he was actually cooking this meal! Glad to see he can still hang. HAHA.
Tonight’s Beer Dinner features 5 beers from Full Pint Brewing to accompany each course. We have enjoyed a couple of the Full Pint beers before tonight, but it was nice to get to try 3 new ones tonight (all 5 beers were delicious!!). Thankfully every one will be served the same meals and beers so I won’t have to describe a bunch of different plates. Let’s jump right in to the meal.
Beer 1: Spruce Ale
A light beer brewed with molasses and spruce tips instead of the standard hops. The nose has small hints of pine; there is a mild sweetness and a hint of citrus notes as you swallow. This is a great opening beer, or hell, even a great beer to sip on all night.
Course 1: Baked Brie with Micro Greens Salad
A nice and light starter that goes great with the beer, get the palate going for the rest of the meal. A small chunk of brie cheese wrapped in pastry and baked till golden brown, served atop a small salad of micro greens with a tart apple and rosemary gastrique.
Beer 2: White Lightning
The guys from Full Pint said, “This is what Blue Moon wish its beer tasted like”. I agree with that, it’s a more flavorful Belgian-style white, with citrus peel, coriander, and grains of paradise. Full Pint calls it “shockingly refreshing”. I think it’s just a tasty beer. Although one member of our group said he thought it had a smell similar to “hot dog water”. But oddly enough, he still enjoyed drinking it.
Course 2: Mussels and Clams in coconut milk
We were shocked that a few members of our group have never tried mussels or clams! BUT, after eating this dish all agreed that they really enjoyed them (mussels were preferred over clams). It was a small bowl with maybe 4 or 5 of each, steamed in coconut milk, a splash of White Lightning, cilantro, lime and some scallion. I’m not ashamed to admit I drank the broth that the mussels and clams were cooked in. How bout serving some bread Joe, DAMN!
Beer 3: Chinookie
This is their signature IPA. Its hopped 4x. This beer has a strong nose of pine and citrus. I am a huge fan of IPA’s and this one is outstanding. The copper color is beautiful and it is incredibly smooth.
Course 3: Boar shank served over jalapeño Pho
A perfectly cooked shank that was ‘fall of the bone’ tender. Placed on a bed of noodles in an intense broth with strong jalapeño flavors. IPA’s pair really well with spicy food, needless to say these matched up well.
Beer 4: Little Brown Ale
This beer was served as a draft and is a nitro beer, which gives it creaminess similar to Guinness beer. The head on the beer is almost like whipped cream. The flavor is strong malt up front, almost bread like with a hint of sweetness on the finish. Everyone really enjoyed this beer.
Course 4: Smoked Scallops with foie gras
This course had mixed reviews. The appearance of the plate was a little lacking in color, even with the purple potatoes. Everything on the plate was smoked so the flavor was a tad overwhelming. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the smokiness on them was just right. I know what they were going for with this course but the smoke flavor was a tad too strong. Had a strong sautéed veg been served with it maybe it would have lightened the smoke aspect. Plus anything with foie gras is delicious. Sorry PETA.
Beer 5: Yeast Common Denominator
This beer is part of their Nerd’s Reserve Series. It’s one-off series beer that they experiment with when they have room in the tanks. This beer was a perfect match to the dessert course. It was sweet, strong in alcohol, heavy (but in a good way).
Course 5: Grilled Banana with Beer Ice Cream
This was the hands down winner for the favorite course (the baked brie was 2nd). A grilled banana, with ice cream made with the beer, peanut praline “balls” and caramel sauce. The ice cream alone would have been an amazing end to the meal. The peanut praline “balls” were fabulous also. A perfect way to end a delicious beer driven meal.
Be sure to check out The Wooden Nickel’s website because Joe is constantly hosting wine and beer dinners, even magic shows at times. If Joe weren’t a chef he would probably be performing magic somewhere. Goofball! Also be sure to check out Full Pint’s website to see all they have to offer and get a bit of their story. We would like to thank the entire staff at the Nickel for an amazing meal. All of us said that we would have to do this again. Well done, Joe. Keep up the great work.
The Wooden Nickel
also on Facebook
4006 Berger Lane
Monroeville, PA 15146
Kitchen closes 1 hour prior to above times.
Full Pint Brewing Co.
Also on Facebook
1963 Lincoln Highway,
North Versailles, PA 15137
Hours subject to change.
Beers are sold in most Distributors and served in many local bars and restaurants.