GRAND RAPIDS — It’s sad but true; Cool Brews. Hot Eats. is coming to a close.

Saturday will mark your final chance to experience the expert pairings and beer-infused dishes and restaurants and brewpubs throughout Grand Rapids.

But if you can’t make it out before Saturday night, you’re in luck. Although they are participating in their first Cool Brews. Hot Eats. event, Rezervoir Lounge could equate infusing food with craft brews as business as usual.

Since Executive Chef Chris Montgomery took over the kitchen a year and a half ago, he says, “About 60% of our [regular] menu incorporates beer somehow.” 

Rez Lounge, formerly Sazerac’s on Grand Rapids’ Northeast side, has 24 rotating taps. Chef Montgomery is a self proclaimed “beer nerd,” as well as a home brewer. His intimate knowledge and appreciation of the craft allows him to integrate beer whenever possible. 

Rez Lounge’s offerings for Cool Brews. Hot Eats. include beef short ribs braised in Perrin Brewing’s Kona Brown Ale, served with curried mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts with a (“very labor intensive”) Kona Brown Ale demi glaze. “Anytime I think of coffee browns or stouts, I immediately go to beef,” says Montgomery of his inspiration for the dish.

The madras for the curried mashed potatoes is made in-house and adds to the deep complexity of the dish. 

The suggested pairing is the Kona Brown, but Montgomery says they ran out of that a while back — somewhere between Grand Rapids Beer Week, which ran in tandem with the first week of Cool Brews, and its Perrin tap takeover event on Feb 19.

Instead, he brings out Founder’s Smoked Porter and no one is complaining.

The second offering is house made Seitan chorizo tacos wrapped in raw jicama shells, topped with the chef’s own mango habanero salsa and non-dairy sunflower seed based sour cream. It is paired with North Peak’s Hoodo Midwest Wet Hop IPA. Montgomery states that pairing spicy dishes with hops cuts the heat without sacrificing the flavors.

“This is the only vegan option for Cool Brews. Hot Eats.,” Montgomery says with visible shock.

Montgomery eats vegan at least three days of the week and has created a full vegan menu for Rez Lounge, including an array of house made vegan cheeses. The Seitan chorizo is also a dish that will continue at Rez Lounge and will be included in its new vegan menu, set to debut in a few months.

Other tried and true beer infused specials — not related to Cool Brews.Hot Eats. — will also be included on Rez’s revamped regular menu. A Valentine treat from earlier this month, the Beer-amisu, a Founder’s Breakfast Stout variation of tiramisu, will become a permanent dessert option. “People were literally licking their glasses clean,” Montgomery said.

There will also be a stout cured corned beef Reuben sandwich, made with Dark Horse Brewing’s Too Cream Stout.

After tasting the Cool Brews offerings, dessert is served. As luck would have it, the house made beer ice cream just happens to be Kona Brown. It is served over a warm whiskey stout fudge brownie and topped with Framboise whipped cream. 

Rez Lounge truly is a “Hidden Gem” as Chef Montgomery calls it, for beer geeks and food lovers alike. While there’s only a couple meals left to taste the beer braised beef ribs (and you will regret missing them), Montgomery will no doubt continue to concoct beer-seeped dishes, and Rez Lounge will always have something for everyone on tap.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery
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