There is something about beer culture that brings out my interest in gender studies. Sure, girls drink beer, but it still feels like a boys’ brew. I kind of admire that the buddies behind Brothers don’t hide the fact that they are going for a deliberate boys-in-the-basement bar sensibility. Co-owners Patrick Asselin, former service manager at Play Food & Wine, and Nick Ringuette, former bartender at The Black Thorn, would be silly to disregard the interests of the fairer sex when opening their new Market hangout. That’s where good food comes in. Dare I say there’s an almost feminine quality to the bistro menu created by chef Darren Flowers, who comes with a fine food pedigree via Luxe Bistro, The Whalesbone, and Beckta. There’s an excellent burger and fries, to be sure, but the menu otherwise travels as far as possible from traditional pub fare. Forget baskets of greasy nachos and wings — Flowers opts to make a delicate tuna crudo and plates it beautifully. Comforting pig-cheek perogies and fragrant mussels with pickled tongue prove a commitment to working with unusual bits of the beast. At lunchtime, a top-notch chicken-salad sandwich is the modern reinvention of grandma’s tea party favourite. A host of kitchen gadgets was no doubt employed in making the moist confit of chicken tossed with hop aïoli, smoked raisins, and compressed apple and topped with lettuce and tomato on a fresh pretzel bun. Like it or not, beer is incorporated into nearly all the food — as either the braising or brining liquid or in complementary items such as vinegar, mayo, salad dressings, and bread. Dessert is where the kitchen gets cheeky, with some childlike creations: the homemade raspberry pop tart rests upon a comic-book clipping. It comes with its own little packet of icing and coloured Vienna malt candy sprinkles. Cute. Offering beer-pairing suggestions for each and every dish is a great way to open up the conversation about the wide range of flavours that can be found in the world of beer today. The arrival of a new high-glam sports bar in the neighbourhood may be imminent, but the Brothers have had a head start in capturing the hearts of beer fanatics and foodies alike.
366 Dalhousie St., 613-695-6300, www.brothersbeerbistro.ca.