Monday, 17 September 2012

MKT Fresh Food + Beer Market

MKT Fresh Food + Beer Market is run by the Century Hospitality Group, which also owns the Century Grill, Lux Steakhouse, the DeLux Burger Bars and One Hundred.  This place has the potential to become a thriving craft beer hot-spot, but has a long way to go to achieve this.  I was impressed by the menu and the beer list, but the service needs to be improved substantially.

MKT Fresh Food & Beer Market on UrbanspoonMKT is located in the former Strathcona Train Station, built in 1891.  In more recent years, this building was home to the Iron Horse nightclub, which closed in 2010.  While the extensive size is good for a late-night venue, it is a nightmare to servers and clients alike.  I noticed two-way radios dangling from the waists of every hostess, to alleviate the inevitable communication issues in such a building.

A Beer Geek and her Beer Geek Breakfast.

It was Friday, September 14th and possibly one of the last warm evenings we would this year.  MKT had assigned several servers to their impressive patio for the occasion.  One girl seemed to be doing a good job, cycling back and forth between four large wooden tables with plates of food while several others stood idle.

I  had come early with a friend to stake claim to a table for a large birthday party before the venue became busy.  We sat down at a long wooden picnic table, but waited 20 minutes before even being acknowledged.  Our first waitress appeared flustered and disorganized, pages of her notepad fluttering to the ground as she struggled to find her pen.  When I asked what was available from the rotational taps, she panicked and ran off to ask another staff member.  We never saw her again.

It's like I'm travelling through beer hyperspace!

Eventually I got tired of waiting for our server to return, and motioned to the hostess that we were in need of attention.  We were sent a more organized individual to attend to our needs, and enjoyed proficient service for the rest of the evening.  Although MKT does have some talented servers, it may be necessary to improve the training of less experienced staff to give consistent service.

Now for the fun part.  The beer list is by far the main attraction.  MKT offers 55 different draught beers, 60 available by the bottle, and 4 “rotational taps” for seasonal offerings.  They also offer several creative beer cocktails or "Hop Tails", including the Twisted Beer Caesar and the Chambly Pineapple Punch.

I started my night off with a pint of Beer Geek Breakfast from Mikkeller, although the call to brunch had long past.  The Danish brewery makes this rich stout with 25% oat ingredients, chocolate malt, and a touch of coffee.  I would be delighted to wake up to a pint of this beer morning, if it were socially acceptable.

Since I’d consumed a proclaimed “breakfast” drink, it was easy to justify ordering a beer ice cream float before dinner. You may not have ever thought to combine beer and ice cream, but it’s definitely an experience I recommend.  The Beer Float is served with your choice of Amber’s Kenmount Road Chocolate Stout, Fruli or Dad’s Root Beer poured on top of vanilla bean ice cream and garnished with fresh mint.

Beer Tasting 101
If you are just starting to appreciate beer and want to learn more about the different styles available, Beer Flights are a great way to “test the waters”.  A wheat beer, lager, red ale, and oak-aged beer are served all at once, giving you the chance to compare them side by side.  If you know someone that thinks “all beer tastes the same”, this is a good way to change their mind.  They are wrong and should be forced to admit it.

It had been at least two hours of continuous imbibing and I had consumed nothing but a scoop of ice cream in the name of food since noon.  It was time to try one of the savory items on the menu, but the beer float was just too satisfying for me to justify buying an entire meal.  I shared the “Delux Poutine” with a like-minded colleague, and was intrigued by the “beer salt” the dish was garnished with.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to obtain a good explanation from our waitress on how it could be made.  It seems like the kind of crazy experiment I would attempt.

I feel no remorse about my beer float indulgence, but I regret not sampling the other entrees on the menu.  There is a good mix between classic pub grub and more upscale dinner fare.  The Grilled Bologna Sandwich is a stark contrast to the Kobe Beef Carpaccio.  Steak Frites precedes the MKT Mac n’ Cheese under the list of main plates. 

Life is uncertain.
Eat dessert first.
I don’t think MKT will mind me sharing this two-ingredient recipe.  Use Amber’s Chocolate Stout, Young’s Chocolate Stout, or another dessert beer.  Whatever “floats your boat”.

The moral of the story?  Eat dessert first.

Chocolate Stout Ice Cream Float

2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
6 oz. chocolate stout

  1. Scoop ice cream into a tall glass.
  2. Pour the beer over the ice cream and serve with a long spoon.
  3. Eat the whole thing because you deserve it.  Or share with your badass partner in crime. 

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