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Friday, March 29, 2013

My new favorite beers at Steins Beer Garden in Mountain View

What? Did I just say I have not one, but favorite beers (as in plural with an "s")? Yup. Which sounds weird to say because I've never liked a single beer I've ever sipped until last Tuesday when I went to Steins Beer Garden. It's a hybrid of a beer garden + restaurant with food that will exceed your expectations of what often passes for food at bars and breweries.

Located on Villa Street, at the intersection of Bryant, I arrived quite late for a media event hosted two nights before their official opening. It was the kind of service where the food and beverages are complimentary so that everyone from the hostesses, bar, kitchen and waitstaff can gain experience and learn how to meet the company's quality and service standards.

Inside I found the space broken into three sections. To the left is an expansive dining room with high ceilings, standard tables and several large and long community tables where people can gather. In the center of the room the bar is accessible from three sides. And on the right there's a chic lounge area with a lower ceiling and more club-like ambiance with colored lighting.

With wood plank walls and floors the feeling in the dining room was comfortable, modern, and earthy. Note the glowing windows to the left behind the bar. Guess what's inside?

It's the keg room where all of the tapped beers reside.

And over in the lounge was the bar and a more intimate seating area.

Just to the left there's an outdoor patio that I didn't photograph that night because it was too dark. I'll get a picture on my next visit and add it to this post later.

This is the bar on the lounge side.

The floor plan is very well done and at the end of the night I was given a teeny tiny beer mug with the company's name and logo printed on one side.

The reason I was there was to try their strawberry beer. What? Yes! I said strawberry beer! It's imported from Belgium and it was DIVINE! And so was the apple beer. I've never liked beer before but my friend Elley knew, since I had discovered I enjoy dessert wines, that I would equally enjoy the fruit beers at Steins. And she was right.

The flavors were of fresh fruit, smooth and sweet but not overly so. I have no idea how to describe beer or its proper vocabulary so I'll just say the apple beer is like a grown up's sparkling apple cider because the alcohol content is around 4% and there's no refined sugary sweetness to it. It tastes like the essence of fresh fruit with a depth of flavors that blend together in a way that there's no off or strong taste to hide from. I let the beer pass over my finicky super taster taste buds and found it to be a superbly enjoyable experience. Yum, and double yum for the strawberry too.

I'm looking forward to returning and having them again on a hot day this summer. I've always felt a bit of envy watching people enjoy cold beer on a hot day. Now I can too, but apparently only in Mountain View when I visit Steins.

And I mentioned the food was good. How classy is this? Instead of giving me a bowl of nuts or pretzels I was offered a small jar of house pickled vegetables. Just looking at this picture is making my mouth water. Lately I've been loving pickled veggies like a pregnant lady! LOL. My very nice waitress packed a small to go box of them so I could have them at home too. What a nice treat!

Clearly there's a chef, not a cook, in the kitchen at Steins.

Though I could have ordered anything on the menu, I only ordered one appetizer because it was more than enough to be a meal (for me). I tried the Smoked Salmon and Potato Pancakes with an apple herb salad and crème fraîche. The staff was disappointed that I didn't want to try more dishes but I honestly, I couldn't eat another bite. Plus it gives me a reason to go back and something to look forward to. I really want to try their soft, hot pretzels appetizer too.

There was even a dessert buffet where I was able to sample a multitude of dainty, bite-sized, desserts.

My favorite was the tiny cinnamon sugar donut.

I think the buffet was only there because it was a special event but I heard the donuts are a menu item you should be able to order when you visit.

As I sat staring at my glasses of beer it made me sad I couldn't drink them up. I hate waste. So I posted on Facebook to see if anyone would come pick me up and drive me home if I drank both of them. LOL. There were no takers so I'll have to bring hubby along in the future to be my designated driver so I can enjoy my entire serving.

Their website isn't live yet but you can find them at:

Steins Beer Garden - website
895 Villa Street
Mountain View, CA

Their Facebook page is pretty active so until their site is live you can learn more about them there.

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