The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Review: Goose Island Beer Dinner At Urban Belly

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 12, 2009 3:20PM

The best beer and wine dinners are collaborative efforts where chef and winemaker/brewmaster get to know each other and their creations intimately. Even so, the number of these dinners we've attended where every pairing worked perfectly can be counted on one hand.

We're adding last night's Goose Island beer dinner at Urban Belly to that very short list. Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall told a sold-out house that he's had every dish on the Urban Belly menu twice over, while chef Bill Kim expressed his desire to host a beer dinner with Goose Island for years, dating back to his days at Le Lan. For this dinner, Hall and Kim didn't try to expand past what they already did well. The only item on the four-course menu that customers cannot already order at Urban Belly was Mindy Segal's rhubarb pie. Each course met its match with a selection from Goose Island's Reserve line of beers and the Heritage selection, Naughty Goose.

This was also one of a handful of dinners where most of the attendees left without feeling like they committed a cardinal sin. Too often at these events either the pours or the food are too much for one to bear. Kim struck the right notes in making the first two courses communal, whetting the guests' collective appetite for an amazing udon with ground pork and Chinese black bean. Meanwhile the pours meted out by Goose Island's PJ McNulty and company were manageable and not intended to get diners drunk.

Hall sits on the board of Slow Food Chicago and has been preaching the gospel of pairing food and beer long before Matilda made that a reality for Goose Island. The brewery is hosting other beer dinners, including a sure-to-sell-out event at the Bristol on June 2, where chefs Chris Pandel and John Manion will be brewing their own beer exclusively for the dinner.