Cafe Estelle + Stoudt's = Beery, Bacony Bliss

Thursday night at Café Estelle, chef Marshall Green teamed up with Adamstown microbrewery Stoudt’s for a five-course menu we knew we couldn’t miss. For $40 a head, there was a lot of food and a lot of beer, as well as Bourbon provided by bad influences and blogalicious buddies Felicia D’Ambrosio of Meal Ticket and Philly Weekly photographer Mike Persico.

Stoudt’s Munich-style Gold Lager drank well with the first course, a cheddar-bacon-and-Stoudt’s gold soup in which you could really taste the bitter edge of the beer in a wonderful way. Green followed with buttery Bibb lettuce cups cradling succulent chicken confit and toasted hazelnuts. As salads go, it was rich, but Stoudt’s crisp, brilliant Pilsner sliced right through. Their APA came next, floral and slightly sweet with a trace of cleansing bitterness on the finish. The briny Nicoise olives in the butternut squash risotto alongside seared ahi mimicked the hops in the APA, a calm salty surf that swept up the lingering starch after each bite. The next course brought Scarlet Lady in our glasses and well as Scarlet Lady on our plates; Green, sporting his signature backwards maroon Phillies cap, braised pork shanks in the luscious, garnet beer till sublimely tender, then plated them with sour cabbage and the most delicious spaetzle we’ve ever had. Green’s pea-sized German dumplings had real live texture, crunchy and gold on one side from a solid pan-caramelization, soft on the other. If the pork shank was the best course of the night, dessert—a slim slice of silky dark chocolate ganache tart set off by Stoudt’s Fat Dog stout—was the best pairing. We’re not even huge stout drinkers over here, but the notes of smoke and coffee in the beer gave the torte a gravity that, like Stoudt’s and Green, we had no choice but to stand up and applaud.

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