Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

Main Vibe

Main Street Beer Company is at its best when keeping it simple.

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I expected to get some good grub that served to highlight the beer. I got a little of this, as well as a little food that went a little too far.

Main Street offers a slew of beer on tap, brewed on premises. Thirteen brews are offered at $2 per pint. I tried the hophead first, Main Street's version of the India pale ale. This style of beer at its pinnacle is extremely bitter from the great amount of hops used in the brewing. This bitterness is generally balanced with some sweetness and aromatic spices. The hophead did not have the balance. I also took a shot with the Fan lager. It tasted like a bitter tooth. Lagers, since they generally spend more time in a conditioning tank, tend to have a smooth and more-developed flavor profile. The lager I drank tasted flat and tinny. The Scottish ale was slightly more palatable, but again, it seemed flat and paper-thin. This could be attributed to a storage problem or could signal other issues in the brewing process. Or, it could be that these beers are exactly what the brewmaster wants them to be.

When choosing food, I would suggest sticking with the traditional bar grub or simple entrees. I enjoyed these types of selections most. As the menu descriptions become longer, the food tends toward excess and ends up being a mush of both flavor and texture. The pepper steak wrap ($7.95) was solid beer-drinkin' food. The steak was tender, surrounded by grilled peppers and onions and treated with just enough cheese to hold it all together. The angel hair ($13.95) with tomatoes, kalamatas, garlic and fresh basil delivered the expected flavors, well blended, in a straightforward manner. I had worried that the pasta might be mushy or sticky, but it was clean and firm. These entrees represent the tasty and appropriate beer-house food that is available. A couple of the flashier entrees went a bit too far. The warm spinach salad ($10.95) was a soupy mess of chicken, onions, baby spinach, pine nuts and Gorgonzola bathing in thick balsamic vinaigrette. The flavors and crispness that one would expect from the components were lost in the drenching of dressing. The lamb tandoori ($20.95) tenderloins were served with a tarragon aioli, rice and julienne veggies. The kick of tandoori seasoning was too subtle to make much of a difference. The pork chops ($19.95) were seasoned and sauced with bourbon, orange, sweet vermouth, red currants and sage. That's a hell of a lot for a pork chop to shoulder. I may say it too often, but if a restaurant is not focused on serving "cuisine," why try so hard? Especially when trying to highlight craft-brewed beer, less is more. Simple, full flavors with a little bit of spice lead to more pints purchased. The wraps and the pasta play to this ideal and succeed where several of the flashier offerings do not.

Main Street Beer Company is a fine place to hang out. It has a good "vibe." The spacious dining rooms and bar area invite one to linger and watch the immense steel tanks and beer-making process going on behind a glass wall. The place is extremely crisp and clean with a polished industrial feel. The staff is friendly and welcoming. While I found the beer to be bitter and vegetal, there are many selections to choose from, and you very well may find several you like. When dining, I would suggest sticking with the short and sweet descriptions of simple, savory dishes. S



Randall Stamper worked in restaurants in Boston, New Orleans and Indiana for seven years and has filled every job from dishwasher to general manager. All his visits are anonymous and paid for by Style.



Main Street Beer Company ($$$)

1911 W. Main St.

358-9620

Lunch: Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dinner: Sunday to Tuesday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Brunch: Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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