Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Burger, Wine (or Beer) on Tap, and Thou

The gourmet burger market seems as robust as ever since it began about a decade ago. But recently I visited some new upscale hamburger restaurants that seem to be paying as much attention to their drink offerings as they are to their burgers.

Two of them -- Eureka! and ROAM -- opened recently in the San Francisco Bay Area, the former in Berkeley and the latter in Lafayette, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco. Eureka belongs to a relatively new chain in California with 10 restaurants scattered throughout the state; ROAM in Lafayette comes after two shops have been doing well in San Francisco.

It's a dirty job ... tasting beers at Eureka! in Berkeley, Ca
Besides good food and an upscale atmosphere, Eureka! specializes in craft, small production whiskies and 30 different craft beers on tap. It offers artisanal whiskey cocktails and unusual pairings such as four different small batch whiskeys or two whiskeys and two beers. The possibilities are many, and the staff will help you with your selections as well as matching whiskeys and/or beers with your food.

For dessert at Eureka! the staff suggested I eat my butterscotch pudding (delicious!) with an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, a heavy dark beer. Normally, I would not lean towards drinking a dark beer at all, nor would I order an alcoholic drink with dessert, as sweets and alcohol together usually don't appeal to me by the end of a meal. But I accepted the suggestion and the pairing was wonderful, with a great complementary melding of flavors.

For a longer review of the food at Eureka! see my restaurant review on Nancy D. Brown's What A Trip website.

A little more casual than Eureka! but still cool and contemporary, ROAM offers sustainably-produced wine on tap in a range of varietals. I tasted a Riesling (fruity, but not too sweet)  a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir -- all good. The craft beer at ROAM comes on tap and bottled.

Eureka! focuses on its burgers and other main dishes and has only one or two dessert options. At ROAM, there are a variety of Straus Family Creamery milkshakes in some very with-it flavors like Salted Caramel and Blue Bottle Coffee as well as Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Chocolate and Strawberry.

Not only do these two establishments show that burger cuisine has come a long way, but they show that wine, beer and cocktails can be great burger partners.