Neighbourhood: Fort Rouge
Address: 800 Pembina Hwy
When restaurateur Kristian Kristjansson closed the doors of The Round Table 40 years after his father opened it, many wondered what would replace the beloved Tudor cottage building. As months turned into the better part of a year, the massive renovation project unfolded before the eyes of commuters. What emerged may retain the same footprint of the original building, but is unrecognizably new and improved.
The entire experience is both casual and obsessive; relaxed yet smart décor, a menu that pays attention to today’s growing list of crazy diets, and knowledgeable service packaged in jeans and T-shirts. Salvaged wood covering walls and beams above give the new space a rustic beer barn feel, but the finishes are chic enough to make women happy. On-site brew bins are visible through glass, giving a peek at the action while keeping the odorous by-products of the process at arms length.
Unmistakably though, beer provides focus for what to eat here. Snacks, appies, burgers, noodles and entrees are designed for pairing with a pint. House brew nuts offer instant gratification – the spicy, smoky, cocoa covered blend can turn into an addiction without intervention. Tempura cauliflower, a clear favourite by the servers, doesn’t disappoint. Accompanying soy glaze offers a hit of salty while keeping it light(ish).
Local breweries have been opening – with on site tasting rooms luring avid beer drinkers to the heart of the craft beer buzz – since last December. By now, small batch brewers have staked out a legitimate industry, with Brazen Hall leading the group as brew pub poo bah. The playful let-your-hair-down menu is packing in diners of all ages, offering homey multi-culti classics that fit the new age of urban foodsters seeking out favourite flavours from around the globe.
Burgers with beer are an easy sell. The vegetarian burger (“Vurger”) is notable, with mango jalapeno relish and crisp fried onions offering a one two punch. However, it’s the beef and farmer sausage patty on a potato bun, covered with special blueberry maple ketchup, bacon, mushrooms, Manitoba Trappist cheese and beer braised onion that has earned the restaurant a big fan base during the summertime “Le Burger Week” promotion.
Noodles are the surprise delight at this brew pub. Handmade ravioli are filled with a gorgeous mixture of wild mushroom, caramelized onion and ricotta and topped with a rose sauce that holds its own among leading local Italian bistros. The vermicelli bowl rivals any of our favourite pho joints, and the red Thai curry’s hits the right note with its mix of veggies, and balance of spice and sweet.
Classic hearty fare like beef ribs make an appearance too. Rich stout braised short ribs are placed over potato and cauliflower mash, with a generous sprinkle of peas and pickled onion, for a fall-off-the-bone dish that is Sunday dinner worthy. Succulent buttermilk brined Nashville Hot fried chicken layers some heat with a beer tinged hot sauce. Camp style charred bread makes a nice crunchy accompaniment.
End with spicy warm clove and cinnamon cake for a playful mixture of textures and flavours. Pumpkin white chocolate ganache, sticky beer caramel, buttermilk cream and a sprinkling of pie crust crumble punctuate the dining experience with a lasting impression.
Brazen Hall is open Mon-Tue 11:30 am-12 pm, Wed-Sat 11:30 am-1 am, Sun 11:30 am-11 pm.