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Pub fare goes Uptown
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Image
Photos by Wes Naman
By Logan Greely
ABQ Brew Pub goes beyond barley and hops to deliver good food in a comfortable atmosphere
 
Typically, brew pubs are not expected to serve great food. Rather, they are expected to brew great beer. If they do, they have essentially done their job, end of story. Good eats at a brew pub go above and beyond the call of duty.

Luckily, Albuquerque has a number of brew houses that go the extra mile to provide their thirsty patrons with a bit more sustenance than barley and hops. Towards the top of the heap in that respect is ABQ Brew Pub.
 
Essentially a glorified tap room for New Mexico sister breweries Sierra Blanca and Rio Grande, ABQ Brew Pub also serves the hard stuff (in the form of hand-crafted cocktails) as it shares the liquor license and kitchen with the adjacent Uptown Sports Bar. However, both spots have maintained unique identities, and with the recent addition of Chef Mike Lantz, the brew pub side of the equation just got a lot more advanced. I expect that a followup review will soon be required on my end as Lantz will likely update the menu here. However, there are a number of dishes that have become fan favorites since ABQ Brew Pub opened a year and a half ago. Whether or not those will stay on the menu is up in the air. 

ImageWalking into the noticeably sleek-yet-comfortable dining area, one may never guess this to be a brew pub, were it not for the small glass-walled brewing area that has recently been manned by local award-winning home brewer Ben Miller, whose stellar Black IPA was on tap on a recent visit. All other Rio Grande and Sierra Blanca beers (and there are many) are on tap at all times here, so patrons certainly won't walk away thirsty.

I have eaten here many times in the past 18 months, and have had varying experiences. While some dishes have been more than satisfactory, others have left something to be desired. However, with the addition of Lantz, who also recently established the Speakeasy Culinary Club (speakeasyculinaryclub.com), and that easy-drinking Black IPA, the stars seem to be aligning for ABQ Brew Pub.

Dishes I have had here, and will continue to order if available, include the pork carnitas quesadilla, piled into crackly tortillas and coated with cheese and the grilled chicken pasta tossed in a satisfyingly intense habanero cream sauce and served in a funky deep dish bowl. Also, for wings fans, ABQ Brew Pub offers many flavors ranging from sweet to smoky to incendiary. (Note: I won't order the peri-peri wings because, alas — it's difficult to admit — they are too hot for me.)

Other menu items of note include the bacon-wrapped dates drizzled with a balsamic glaze.

ImageOn my latest visit, I came specifically for the award-winning bacon green chile cheeseburger, which took top honors at last year's Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge at the State Fair, among very stiff competition. Served on a plate adorned only with a dill pickle, the burger is a site to behold. Stacked Dagwood-style high and marked with an “X” of bacon, this impressive creation has two things going for it that make it memorable: green chile tempura and two slices of American cheese (that’s right, American cheese — controversially delicious). Definitely add this to my previous list of return visit menu items.

One of my two dining pals ordered the Caesar salad, which she kept to herself and fell just short of finishing. I can’t vouch for the taste, but some things speak for themselves. My other dining companion ordered the special of the day, a pastrami sandwich served, curiously, on a hoagie roll. Call me a purist but pastrami should only lay upon a thin bed of rye bread that has been slathered in pungent mustard. OK, so I’m a purist. So what?

Dessert at ABQ Brew Pub has been uneven at best for me. However, having been introduced to the culinary philosophy of Chef Lantz via the Speakeasy Culinary Club, I am almost certain that any holes in the ABQ Brew Pub menu will soon be filled. Though it is billed as a brew pub, don’t let the name fool you. ABQ Brew Pub is a conveniently located upscale restaurant dressed in pub clothing. You might say it offers the best of both worlds: upscale food and down to earth vibe. I wouldn’t argue with you.

ABQ Brew Pub
6601 Uptown NE, 505.884.1116

 
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