The REFUGE

meter-great-haThe REFUGE is no joke. It’s the ideal eatery as far as I’m concerned; they have fantastic beer and a no-bullcrap menu executed to perfection. What’s not to like? I’m really not sure how else to sum it up… I honestly wish all restaurants were exactly like this place.

” It’s the Disneyland of beer and meat “

The first time I heard about The REFUGE was on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I was only halfway listening to the television at the time, but the discussion of Belgian beer and crazy good pastrami got my full attention. When I heard it was within fifteen miles of my house I knew right then I’d be paying a visit. And so I have.

It's a Belgian beer kind of lunch. Quite the tasty dubbel I might add.

It’s a Belgian beer kind of lunch. Quite the tasty dubbel I might add.

I suppose I should start with the beer. The REFUGE offers a lot of varieties with a heavy emphasis on Belgian styles. I don’t mean ten or twelve beers, I’m talking over a hundred. MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED KINDS OF BEER.

Let that sink in a moment.

Yeah, you’re right. That’s a lot of drinking that needs to be done, and there’s no time to waste. It’s a big responsibility, but I know that if we all work together we can tackle this challenge. And for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, please don’t order a Coors Light or an MGD or any other mainstream domestic atrocity of modern pisscraft. Hey, if that offends you then you don’t deserve the best beer in the entire Bay Area anyway, so quit being all sensitive and get over to The REFUGE for a REAL glass of suds.

It's the Disneyland of beer and meat.

It’s the Disneyland of beer and meat.

The next thing I’d like to cover is the pastrami. The culinary wizards at The REFUGE have elevated this single, humble meat into a new tier of food awesomeness all its own. The pastrami melts, literally melts, when you eat it and.. There, you see? I’ve gone and droobled on my keyboard. Yes, “droobled”. But anyway, this pastrami is hands down the very best I have ever had in my entire life and, as evidenced by my doughy physique, I’ve sampled quite a lot of it over the years. I know my pastrami, so believe me when I say this stuff is the cat’s ass.

You have never had a pastrami burger like this. Never.

You have never had a pastrami burger like this. Never.

As you can imagine, The REFUGE of course makes one of the best Reuben sandwiches you are ever likely to find. It’s piled so ridiculously high with meaty goodness that it’s too big to serve with fries. On my most recent visit I skipped the Reuben and gave the pastrami burger a try, and I was wowed yet again. The bun (pretzel I believe) was straight-out-of-the-oven fresh, the hamburger patty was seasoned to perfection and grilled with a nice crust on it, and a lovely little hill of that magical pastrami topped it all off.

I don't know why they're called 'goofy fries', but I don't have any better suggestions.

I don’t know why they’re called ‘goofy fries’, but I don’t have any better suggestions.

The REFUGE also produces an array of epic salads, appetizers, and sides, including “goofy fries”. These begin life as garlic fries (which are excellent on their own, by the way), but are also topped with pastrami and cheddar cheese sauce. But probably the biggest surprise of the meal, for me at least, were the Brussels sprouts. They were decadently bacon-y, cooked perfectly, and absolutely delicious. I couldn’t get enough of them. And why were they a surprise? Because I can’t freaking stand Brussels sprouts, that’s why. Those nasty, skunky little green pods of misery come straight from the depths of Hell, I’m sure of it, and yet somehow The REFUGE made them awesome. Now that’s impressive.

I discovered that I like Brussels sprouts. Well whaddya know.

I discovered that I like Brussels sprouts. Well whaddya know.

By now it should be relatively clear that I have a total food crush on The REFUGE. Top notch grub, top notch beer, no ridiculousness. I give it 99 Belgian beer bottles (on a Belgian wall of course) out of 100. I plan to spend quite a bit of quality time here. Oh yes.

The REFUGE
Two locations in the Bay Area
www.refugesc.com

The REFUGE on Urbanspoon


This is the Reuben you've been looking for.

This is the Reuben you’ve been looking for.


Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


McMenamins Six Arms

meter-great-

If you’re looking for a mean pint of brew and a tasty meal, McMenamins Six Arms is the pub for you. It’s not the most super fabulous place in the whole world, but then again it’s not trying to be. Six Arms serves a mind-boggling (and gut-rumbling) array of comfort food gems, all of which pair up nicely with McMenamins lovingly crafted beers. Mmmmmmm, beer.

” The perfect reward for hiking up a hill in the rain “

Downtown Seattle is a nice place. It’s clean, cosmopolitan, down to Earth, and ever so slightly odd… but in a good way. On Labor Day weekend, however, the whole place transforms into a surreal, nonsensical alien landscape filled with mysterious clouds of body odor and people wearing elaborate costumes. This is mostly due to PAX Prime taking over the entire convention center and many of the surrounding buildings, but Bumbershoot also plays a part in the weird-ification process. The best way to describe it? Imagine being in a high school locker room on Halloween during a zombie apocalypse. It’s like that.

I found myself – along with a few friends – right in the middle of this chaos during lunch time. Every single sandwich shop and fast food joint in sight was packed to overflowing, and we knew we had to get away from the crowd somehow. Somebody suggested McMenamins Six Arms, a local pub that was just a short walk up the hill and nicely separated from the mayhem surrounding the convention center. We all agreed that this sounded dandy, so we forced our weary feet to start walking. After 10 or 15 minutes of minor uphill huffing and puffing, we arrived.

Unfortunately, the beer doesn't actually come out of those pipes.

Unfortunately, the beer doesn’t actually come out of those pipes.

We were seated immediately on our arrival to Six Arms and given an extensive beer menu to lust over. I couldn’t resist the allure of the Hill Top IPA, and I also ordered a Reuben sandwich as a garnish. The rest of the table ordered an assortment of burgers, soups, and of course beer. The Hill Top IPA arrived in front of me in a couple minutes, and it turned out to be hoppy and refreshing without being too overpowering. It was pretty much the perfect reward for hiking up a hill in the rain.

One is never too old to appreciate tater tots.

One is never too old to appreciate tater tots.

The food was good, although perhaps not quite as good as the beer. That might just be my own perception but hey, I’m the one writing the blog here. My Reuben was flavorful and piled high, but the pastrami was dangerously ordinary. My tater tots were fried to extra-crispy perfection; I enjoyed them thoroughly in spite of the fact that they were ever so slightly oily. None of this of course slowed me down from clearing my entire plate.. er, basket I should say.. and I was pleasantly satisfied after my meal. The assortment of burgers around the table were reported to be delicious, and all of them yielded prolific amounts of juice as they were consumed. I’m not convinced over-juiciness is a good thing, but since I didn’t hear any complaints I’ll let it slide.

That is one shiny bun.

That is one shiny bun.

Ultimately, McMenamins is exactly the kind of quirky place I look for when I’m on the road. Local beer and comfort food both rank very highly on my list of critical restaurant criteria, and this place does both very well. I won’t say it was the very best meal I’ve ever had in my entire life, but McMenamins earns an above average 60 out of 67 kegs of beer – a perfectly respectable score. I will definitely be looking this place up again the next time I find myself surrounded by unwashed Millennials wearing Pokémon costumes.

McMenamins Six Arms
300 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 223-1698
www.mcmenamins.com

Six Arms on Urbanspoon


Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


Beer can chicken

There is something deliciously hilarious about this recipe that appeals to all men. Beer combined with bored hillbillies is guaranteed to result in either disaster or hilarity. In this particular case, depending on whether or not you are the proctologically doomed chicken in question, it’s a little bit of both.

Skip to the short version

” I have no intention of finding out what Schlitz logo ink tastes like “

In a stroke of blind luck (or pure genius), it turns out that this is one of the easiest ways you can imagine to cook up a juicy, tender, and flavorful bird. The basic idea is that you’re steaming the chicken from the inside while roasting it on the outside, and there a number of different ways to accomplish this. In addition to using beer as the “steaming medium”, you can also use wine, cola, broth, lemonade… the list is endless. I’ll detail my own favorite recipe below, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors.

A bottle of booze and a couple things from the yard are all you really need.

A bottle of booze and a couple things from the yard are all you really need.

Truth be told, I have never tried using an actual can of beer; there are all sorts of things in and on aluminum cans that were never intended to be exposed to high temperatures. I have no intention of finding out what Schlitz logo ink tastes like, so instead I use a specially made porcelain steamer thingy called a Sittin’ Chicken. There are a number of different options that also accomplish the same thing, most notably the Poultry Pal. Choose whatever gizmo you like best and start getting your ingredients together.


Ingredients

  • a chicken!
  • white wine
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 or 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • olive oil
  • poultry seasoning


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a drip pan or disposable aluminum tray
  • a wooden skewer
  • a meat thermometer
  • a steamer to sit your chicken on (can of beer, Sittin’ Chicken, etc.)
  • someone to take incriminating pictures of you sticking things in a chicken’s butt


Directions

You can use either a barbecue or an oven to prepare this recipe. A regular old charcoal barbecue or grill is preferable, but anything capable of maintaining medium heat for a few hours will do. This recipe does best when the heat is concentrated below the chicken, so if your oven will do that sort of thing (sometimes called a “baking” setting), set it up that way. If you’re using a smoker or barbecue, you want direct heat right on the bottom of the chicken. Not tons of heat, but it should be direct as opposed to indirect. What we want to do is get the liquid in the steamer (or can) as hot as possible, preferably boiling. If you just roast or broil the chicken, the steamer will be the last thing to heat up and will only reach about 165 degrees, doing a poor job of providing flavor and steam. So, set up your oven or grill for direct, bottom-only heat and start it warming up. Aim for about 275-300 degrees F.

Cut up the lemon and the onion into rough chunks and put them in the steamer, filling it loosely about halfway. Place the rosemary sprigs in the center of the steamer, standing them up like a bouquet. Pour in the white wine, filling it almost all the way to the top. Place the whole thing in the center of your drip pan.

Please have a seat and enjoy the sauna.

Please have a seat and enjoy the sauna.

Rinse the chicken with water, inside and out. Remove the giblets and any other nasty bits you find inside and throw them away. Or, if you have carnivorous pets, throw the giblets in the drip pan instead and they will become delicious and disgusting treats for later. Sprinkle a healthy amount of your poultry seasoning (I sometimes just use thyme and oregano) inside the chicken cavity. Carefully sit the chicken on top of the steamer, making sure all the rosemary sprigs end up inside the bird. Rub the skin thoroughly with olive oil and sprinkle or rub more of your seasoning on the outside. Using the skewer, “sew” the neck of the chicken shut so that none of the steam can escape. Put your new best bird friend in your oven or barbecue and begin rubbing your hands with glee.

The dinner guest has arrived.

The dinner guest has arrived.

Start checking the internal temperature of the chicken after about an hour. You will want to probe multiple locations with the meat thermometer, namely the legs, back, breast, neck, and cavity. Poultry is considered done at 165 degrees F, so make absolutely sure there aren’t any spots on the bird below that temperature. I tend to go a bit above that when making this recipe, mostly because you don’t need to worry as much about the meat drying out thanks to the steamer. I prefer my chicken (especially the dark meat) falling-off-the-bone tender as opposed to barely done, but that’s just me. Once the chicken is done how you like it, remove it from wherever it’s been cooking and try not to drool on it. Depending on the size of the bird, your particular grill or oven, and the type and degree of heat, it will take from 1 to 3 hours to cook completely. It’s done when it’s done; trying to force a specific timeline on it will only lead to tears.

Remove the chicken from the steamer and serve sliced, quartered, pulled, or just get in there with your bare hands and devour it like a wild animal.


Now that's what I'm talking about.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.



tl;dr

Beer can chicken

Ingredients

  • a chicken!
  • white wine
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 or 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • olive oil
  • poultry seasoning


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a drip pan or disposable aluminum tray
  • a wooden skewer
  • a meat thermometer
  • a steamer to sit your chicken on (can of beer, Sittin’ Chicken, etc.)


Directions

Set up barbecue for direct heat, 275-300 degrees F. Cut lemon and onion into rough chunks and place in steamer along with rosemary sprigs. Fill steamer with white wine and place in center of drip pan. Rinse chicken with water, remove giblets, and place upright over steamer. Rub skin with olive oil and sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Use wooden skewer to sew neck hole shut. Roast chicken for 1-3 hours, until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees F. Check multiple points around chicken, including thigh joints. Remove from heat and serve immediately.




See also