Team Effort Scores Big
Collaboration between Boundary House in Calabash and Edward Teach Brewery results in a winning beer dinner.
You’re a rookie professional athlete. Pick your favorite situation.
A. In your first NFL game as QB, you throw for 600 yards, five TDs no INT’s and you run for two TDs.
B. In your NBA debut, you score 46 points and put up a triple-double
C. In your first at-bat as a DH in the majors, you launch a walk-off grand slam.
I’ll go with C for simplicity’s sake, because it’s an apt analogy for what Calabash’s Boundary House staff achieved in their very first attempt at a beer dinner. Dubbed “For the Love of Beer,” the event set a standard for any other restaurants in Brunswick County to emulate, and that is icing on the “Sin” cake. More about that later.
Understand that successful beer dinners require a lot of parts to work together: the kitchen, servers, beer rep and place-clearers need to work like a well-oiled machine, and management needs to be committed to creating a successful, memorable event for their guests that will ensure their return. Score a walk-off on all counts.
The service of Rey Mikhail’s server team was flawless. Chef Jason Collie’s dishes were creative, delicious and well-presented. And Edward Teach Brewery Rep Zack Sweeney was informative and knowledgeable about his product.
And in a first for yours truly, this event was scheduled as casual fine dining around the beautiful Boundary House bar. Most, if not all, beer dinners are held in a separate room or section of the host restaurant. While unique, this set up did present an issue that needs to be addressed for next time, as Rey’s official welcome and introduction was difficult to hear. He and anyone else had to contend with the ambient noise of the restaurant and the logistics of addressing three different sections of the bar. It also limits the amount of interaction between guests, which is part of the fun of a beer dinner.
Bar seating allows only interaction with those to one’s immediate left and right, so no cross-table talk is conducted. Fortunately, those on either side of me, Diane and Mike and Greg and Andrea, were friendly and delightful, and, as fate would have it, Diane and Mike were born in the same Perth Amboy, New Jersey, hospital that I was born in!
Rey allowed that my suggestion would be taken into account and addressed for future dinners. Of course, in my experience, the speaker becomes less and less important as the night wears on. The food, the beers and how they pair become the focus.
The menu created by Chef Jason Collie and Edward Teach Rep Zack Sweeney saw to it that each dish got the attention it deserved.
The first course of Grilled Shrimp and Peach Skewers with a Spicy Peach Chutney was paired with the Wilmington brewery’s most popular beer, Teaches Peaches Peach Wheat (4.9% ABV), and it worked perfectly.
The second course, with a spicier sweet and sour sauce, was Lobster Stuffed Spring Rolls, and the Three Sheets Double Witt with its higher 7.2% ABV helped cut the heat beautifully while augmenting the flavor of the lobster. Just an ancillary question here: Whatever possessed the first guy to pull a lobster from the ocean to say, “Gee, that looks like something I want to eat!”? No matter, though. Lobster lovers are legion and they’re glad he did.
One of the most creative — and delicious, to this palate — dishes of the evening was Collie’s Kobe and Zucchini Sliders, which was a Kobe beef burger topped with cheese sauce between two zucchini slices. It was paired with another very popular Teach beer called Devil’s Son IPA; the “burger” and the 6.5% ABV beer complemented each other superbly.
Teach’s Black Lager is Zack Sweeney’s favorite beer, and it not only accompanied the fourth course of Braised Pork Belly with Brussels Sprouts, the dish was braised in it. That made the pork tender and succulent, and the sauce and risotto upon which it sat was savory indeed. The PubScout has never been a fan of Brussels sprouts, but courtesy to the chef demanded that I take a “thank-you bite.” So I did. My vegetable nemesis was concealed in a forkful of risotto and savory sauce, which actually made it palatable. (But the missus is under strict orders to ensure they never appear on a plate in my home.)
All that good food and grog (got to use pirate lingo here) was just a precursor to what most at my section of the bar considered the piéce de résistance: Chocolate Sin Cake infused with Teach’s Sextant Porter and served with Porter-infused ice cream. Not for nothin’, as we say in Jersey, but there ought to be a law against desserts this good. Just looking at it sitting by itself on the plate caused “eye calories.”
That dish put the finishing touches on a meal that was outstanding … except the House wasn’t finished. Justine Schwindel, Boundary House’s newly hired marketing manager, came up with a great idea to do giveaways. Our free tickets could have won us merchandise like a Boundary House cap or $25 gift cards to one of the Callahan Family businesses: Callahan’s of Calabash, Sea Island Trading Co., Clark’s Seafood and Chop House, and The Oyster Rock Waterfront Seafood. That’s a smart move that will ensure both a memorable evening for those attending — and a return visit.
Along those lines, Schwindel allowed that more beer dinners in other Callahan restaurants could be in the offing — maybe three or four a year. Good idea! And if they follow Rey Mikhail’s model, they, too, could launch with a walk-off grand slam.