Devil In The Details
Craig LaBan takes aim at gastropubs in general and Devil’s Den in particular in his review this week. And it isn’t the beer part that has him grumbling, it’s the food.
The Hennepin-marinated chicken sandwich was cooked to leather, overwhelmed by bun, and bland. The fish of the day – trout with lentils – was promising. But it had a pale broiled quality, and the lentils were a watery mush. The duck confit salad was scattered with meat so overshredded and dry, it was like eating greens laced with wiry threads. The veal boudin sausage, meanwhile, would have been the perfect pub sandwich had the delicate white sausage not been squished inside an oversized baguette that had a stale, dry chew.
I did eat some highlights. The sandwich of tender pulled lamb and onions braised in Optimator Doppelbock was a perfect example of what beer cuisine can be – juicy, flavorful, rustic. Devil’s Den also made some of the best mussels I’ve had in a while, which, if a beer place is going to do something right, is a good place to start. The mollusks basked in distinctive and vivid sauces, whether a coconut Thai curry flickering with ginger and spice, a classic white wine broth with garlicky parsley butter, or, my favorite, the Aventinus, rich with dark wheat beer, pancetta, cream and leeks. The house French fries, when not too greasy, are addictive. Then again, with a supplemental topping of Arrogant Bastard ale cheese and bacon for those fries, what’s a little extra oily shine?
One Bell – Hit or Miss