If you would like to try an assortment of exotic beers from around Europe, the Monk's Table is the place to go. Located on Yonge St just north of the Summerhill subway station, it is a pub on the first floor and restaurant on the second floor. You can order from an extremely wide selection of beers and have them described to you in detail by waiters who seem to double as beer sommeliers.
On many Monday evenings, they offer a 5 course beer tasting and food pairing menu for about $50-60. Each course comes with a tasting size of food and a generous amount of beer, considering you would eventually get 5 of them. With each course, the beer sommelier described the nature of the food and the beer, and the reason behind the pairing. Non-beer drinkers like myself could just partake in the food for a discounted price.
Our tasting began with savory blue cheese, pecan and apricot tarts paired with a Twisted Thistle from Scotland. The beer was described as an India Pale Ale which was orange amber colour, with hops prominent in its aroma and flavour. The blue cheese pairing was supposed to bring out the flavour in both the beer and the cheese. Since I was not drinking the beer, I took his word for this and soon stopped paying attention the descriptions after this. In retrospect, I guess Rich should really be writing this article so he could attest first hand whether these descriptions were accurate.
This was followed by a spicy piece of chicken pierced by a cinnamon stick on top of a fig sauce. This came with a glass of Saint Martin Blond from Belgium, which the Internet describes as a hazy gold beer with a creamy white head with a yeasty, slightly spicy and fruity flavour.
The next course was my favourite both from a taste and presentation perspective. It was a called "smoke salmon lollipops" with tuna carpaccio where the lollipops were rolled up balls of smoked salmon and cream cheese and the "stick" of the lollipop consisted of enoki mushrooms. This came with a glass of Hacker-Pschorr Dunkel Weisse from Germany which is a mild hazy brown beer with a malty, nutty aroma. I found it interesting that each beer came with its own shaped glass and coaster that was designed specifically for it. Also each beer so far has varied in taste, colour, and country of origin.
The main course was an apricot stuffed meat loaf with a red-wine infused mash potato and steamed rapini (another course with apricots - must have been on sale that day!). This came with an Abbot Ale from England that has been described to have a toffee or caramel taste to it. Before a dispute amongst the owners led to a change, the original name of this bar was "Abbot on the Hill". I wonder if it was named after this beer?
The final dessert course was a grapefruit pavlova, which was a grapefruit flavoured meringue with whipping cream and an orange slice on top. The beer was La Trappe Quadruple from Amsterdam described as light and fruity with a hint of spice.
It was a good experience for Rich to try so many different types of beers and was fun for him to listen to the server describe each one of them. For me, the food was only average for this tasting - I've actually had better food here just ordering off the regular menu which includes some very traditional British/Scottish fare like the Scotch Egg. But then I guess the beer was supposed to be the highlight of the evening for this tasting menu and the food probably went much better with the beer. All in all, it was a fun night and a different experience and luckily it was only a short stroll afterwards as I guided a slightly tipsy Rich back home.
1276 Yonge Street