I think brunch could be my favourite meal of all time. Especially at the end of a long week, or an eventful weekend. Sunday is the perfect day to catch up with old friends, recount the previous night’s misadventures. Brunch also seems to be the only situation where it’s perfectly acceptable to have dessert as a meal, and you can even have a beer before noon. Today I’d like to recommend one of my favourite brunch spots, and to review a brew that pairs quite perfectly with bacon. For that matter, what beer doesn’t go well with bacon?
|French toast with bacon, brie, and maple blueberry compote|
I’ve worked at Prairie Bistro for the past eight months or so, and I have only recently taken a leave of absence. It’s impossible for me to give an unbiased review of this place, so I’m not even going to try. Located in the Enjoy Centre on the outskirts of St. Albert, the greenhouse setting is in line with the restaurant’s focus on local organic produce. The prices are higher as a result, so if you’re looking for a $5 sandwich with mystery meat and Kraft singles, I’d suggest going somewhere else. If you’d rather have a roasted chicken panini with smoked gouda on house baked bread, you’ll feel right at home. The bistro offers both a cafeteria-style lunch service and an à la carte service all day. And of course, Sunday brunch.
Each week I would work the brunch shift, eyeing my patrons enviously as they tore into Eggs Benedict with Gull Valley tomato bruschetta, brioche toast, and smoked bacon from Sandyview Farms. The French toast special with brie held a certain appeal to me, and would be served differently each week depending on the ingredients in season. I couldn’t have picked a better week to finally try it out.
What about the beer? While the beer list at Prairie Bistro is small, they have taken explicit care to include only Canadian craft beers, with a lone Spanish sorghum malt selection for celiacs – nary a Molson in sight.
One beer is offered on tap as well: Yellowhead lager. Edmonton’s newest microbrewery produces a lager that is really trying to be more like an ale. Lagers are bottom-fermented at lower temperatures than the top-fermenting ales, and are known for having little sweetness and a crisp, sharp finish. While Yellowhead is brewed as a lager using bottom-fermenting yeast, the light amber hue and the caramel sweetness suggest the flavour profile of an ale. To me, this is a good thing – ales tend to have more complex flavours as a result of esters formed during fermentation. My one criticism is the lack of head retention, with little remaining two minutes after pouring. Overall, the contrast of malty sweetness to the mild hop finish make it the perfect foil to both the sweet and savoury elements of brunch.