I wasn’t gonna do a blog post about Parallel 49 Brewing Company‘s new Street Kitchen, but another website posted their article on it today (the one with the effusive hyperbole), so hey, fair game, right?
Long story short: ambitious menu, perhaps a bit too complicated for the crowd, great service, servings too small, prices too high.
They’ve got two entrances now. One for the “Street Kitchen” side, and one for the retail and growler-filling side (where you can also access the Street Kitchen).
The retail/growler-filling area is to the left, tasting room/restaurant on the right.
They’ve plopped an entire food truck right into the tasting room. The crazy graffiti makes me feel like I’m looking at Fliptop. IMHO the look of the truck doesn’t jive with the actual food that comes out of it, as you’ll see later…
Lots of taps and the infuser is back! It’s bar service-style here. You order and pay at the counter (you can start a tab if you wish), take your number on the stick/rod thingy, pick up your beer, then find a place to sit.
I think this might be the same style LED display that Yellow Dog Brewing uses? It photographs horribly though…tons of moiré.
Second board. They had some experimental IPAs in the “hazy IPA” style that piqued my interest.
Other two boards. From what I could tell, they have two sizes of glasses (0.3L and 0.45L) in addition to flights (4 x 4oz).
The food menu. A more readable menu is on their Facebook page.
I find the prices about 20% too high, especially considering that this is a brewery tasting room. They try to push it as a restaurant, but I can’t shake that tasting room perception cuz of the counter service, the shared seating, and the food truck parked right there. Maybe it’s cuz they’re pushing things a bit out of the norm for Vancouver and I’m not used to seeing it.
I settled my laser eyes on two favourite comfort foods: the Corn Dogs and the Mac ‘n Cheese. If you can’t nail a retro fave and a comfort food standard, things are messed up.
Weirdest-looking ketchup bottles I’ve ever seen. Aside from the fries that come with the burger, most things are sauced/dressed already.
My flight. The server was emphatic that I do not push the paddle or else it might spill. Lift first was their advice.
The server said that one of the beers in their Experimental IPA series is going to become their next flagship beer. If the intention was to brew the next killer hazy IPA, I think they still need to experiment and tweak cuz they all tasted more like fruity/citrusy west coast IPAs. None of them approached what Twin Sails, Yellow Dog, Boombox, or Superflux are doing with the style.
The SMASH 344 (5%) single-malt, single-hop IPA uses an experimental hop that was citrusy and minty/herby. I love that they’re experimenting. Some people might think that they’re experimenting too much, and just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Corn Dogs ($16) with braised (confit?) duck, cornbread batter, lotus root chips, and popcorn.
The corn dogs are dressed in “mami sauce” (as in umami), Japanese mayo (which looked a bit dark to me), and beer mustard. The two forms of corn is a fun touch. The mami sauce tastes like a mixture of hoisin sauce, chee hou sauce/chinese bbq sauce, and maybe a bit of sriracha.
The duck was very soft and well-seasoned. There’s some minor structural integrity issues as these don’t stay on the stick very well, but since these are only 2-3 bites, not a huge deal. Technically well done with a good caramelization on the batter. The duck with the mami sauce brings to mind Peking duck with hoisin.
However, $16 for two mini-corn dogs is too pricey. I’d rather they ditch the lotus root chips (which are already available separately) and moved these to the Small Bites section of the menu and charge $10-11. Or keep it as-is and include a third corn dog. OR just be less fancy and cheffy, and use a weiner like everyone else and charge less and make everybody happier. Even if you used something outside of the box like a weisswurst (or hey a duck sausage), I’d be ok with that.
I do like that they serve lotus root chips instead of potato chips or whatever. Lotus root feels very Chinatown/East Van, in keeping with the environs.
Mac’n Cheese ($11) with “four textures of cheddar”. The way this is…uh…plated shows the difficulty in reconciling the “street food” aspect with the “elevated” aspect they’re trying to do. All the food here is served in wire baskets with checkered wax paper:
but they’ve plated it all on one side like you would in a fancier restaurant. It just looks and feels odd. With the graffiti, it feels like a bit of an identity crisis. (If they’re gonna try to be a restaurant, I gotta review it like a restaurant.)
The four textures of cheddar is one texture too many. We’ve got a cheese sauce, shreds of cheddar, cheddar crisps, and this bland aerated foam that looks and tastes like plain whipped cream. The pasta was cooked well — really al dente, which I liked…you might prefer it softer. But the foam makes me think that the chef is overreaching. I looked around the tasting room, looked at the foam and thought, “are these people gonna ‘get’ this foam thing?”
Minor note: I also got a burnt aftertaste in one of the elements. Nothing looked burnt, so maybe I’m just fucked up.
For the past decade I’ve been looking for the perfect marriage of beer and food. It can be as fancy as you want, as street as you want, as crazy as you want, as long as it works and tastes good. Clearly, there’s a lot of effort put into the food at Street Kitchen but overall it doesn’t work for me. Whether this menu and concept sticks around is up to the customer.
Here’s what really works for me as far as beer and food goes in this city: