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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Craft Beer Market - A Tall Order

Physical space sets the precedent for a restaurant. Whether or not we care to admit it, we expect a higher calibre of food in a decked-out space; the sort where no metaphorical stone remains unturned and the merest of details are given thesis-volumes of though. Conversely, a sparse and spare space begets lower expectations - and often produces the grandest of pleasant surprises when expectations are overturned (but that's another story for another time).

Craft Beer Market's physiognomy fits into the first category. A cavernous, warehouse-like space greets throngs of scarf and parka-sporting patrons on its opening night, which happens to be gripped in switchblade-sharp winds and antarctic temperatures. A beautiful space, to be certain. A trip downstairs, for example, conjures up a prohibition-era cellar of clandestine kegs.

The encyclopedic beer menu features nods to multiple breweries on multiple continents. Picking one to sample is vexing. Grizzly Paw Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat, brewed a hop, skip and jump away in Canmore, proves glacier-crisp and gently sweet. Satisfying and smooth.

Similar flattery cannot be applied to the meandering food menu, which jumps around from burgers to pasta to any manner of appetizers. Stuffed Pretzel Bites are pleasant enough and aren't overly greasy, but the mustard dip is so thick that it must be spooned onto said bites, and efforts are rewarded with a flavour more akin to mustard gas.

Ahi Tuna Poke veers into delicious territory; burgundy cubes of satiny tuna tumble together with crisp cukes and crunchy little sesame seeds, but the cubes are so large that they keep falling off the accompanying wonton crisps, the surface texture of which is so bumpy that we resort to eating the tuna with a fork. Mince the fish and veg a bit smaller and this would be a winner.

The same cannot be said for the Charcuterie Board. Though pleasing to regard visually, absolutely no explanation of meat, cheese or condiments is offered by the servers. One can only hope that this was an opening night oversight. Lamentably, the cheese is nothing more exotic than rubbery Brie (or was it Camembert...) and Jalapeno Havarti. The cold cuts appear to be a russet-hued salami and too-thick proscuitto. No crostini or crackers came with; these had to be requested separately.

Craft, it would seem, must grow into its impressive space.

CRAFT Beer Market on Urbanspoon


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