It seems that more and more watering holes throughout the city now break with the orthodoxy of burgers and brats and offer dishes that need washing down with a good pint of beer.
I had a perfect moment at Steinbeck’s Ale House in Decatur’s Oakhurst Village. Among the evening’s bar snacks were chicharrones — cubes of fried pork belly served Mexican style with sliced jalapeno and lime wedges. Salty, fatty, chewy, with that glassy layer of skin that threatens to break a tooth but then dissolves into porky goodness. Now, that’s what pork belly is for.
Chef Andy Gonzales has fans for his offbeat Asian/Mexican/Southern stylings. It’s the kind of food I don’t want to oversell because it’s sort of slipshod and not always quite thought out, but welcome in the moment. Kung pao brisket, fatty and spicy, arrives dumped over clumpy jasmine rice with fried peanuts and whole stems of cilantro. It tastes like smart drunk food.
You need to pay attention to the specials board, where you might luck into a soulful bowl of crowder peas. But sandwiches from the standing menu taste more like placeholders. Both the lamb burger and fried chicken sandwich (called the “Pimp Fil ‘Eh”) both turn sloppy and moist in your hands and get discouraging.
But it’s bar food; I’ll get over it.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog