Most every trip to Cleveland I try to make it to the West Side to see what’s going on. Well, this time, there was actually some major news: a new brewpub has opened. Market Garden is now open, across the street from one of my other West Side favorites, Bar Cento/Bier Markt. So I decided to walk across the street and give it a try.
Market Garden is the latest venture from Sam McNulty, who opened the above-mentioned Bar Cento an Bier Markt across the street. Earlier this year, he teamed up with former Dogfish Head brewer Andy Tveekrem (I’ve since learned that in Cleveland beer circles he’s got quite the following) to open up a new beer garden-styled establishment, focusing on beer and distilled spirits, but also offering a decent menu of, well, upscale pub grub. Bringing on experienced chef Mike Nowak from across the street, they’ve got a decent menu of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and lighter dinners.
Walking into Market Garden, the first thing that’s apparent is that, despite having a shared heritage with the places across the street, Market Garden is a different beast. Instead of the darker, cozy notes of Bier Markt/Bar Cento, Market Garden is, well, big. With several thousand square feet, it’s very bright and open, with several bars inside, plentiful seating, and a lot of room to hang out. Outside, they’ve got an impressive beer garden space, with nice tables looking up at the nearby clock tower.
Wandering in from the street, I was immediately greeted, and offered my choice of seating, inside bar, inside table, or beer garden. The weather and my slightly underdressing for it resulted in my selecting a spot at one of the inside bars, underneath the big “BEER” sign, where the bartender, Melissa, made sure to explain the beer list, the menu specials, and mentioned some upcoming special events (including a “Reisling Festival” across the street at Bar Cento, which I ended up doing later that evening). I also immediately discovered that Market Garden is quite popular amongst the West Side hospitality crowd, since I ended up seated between one of the wine distributors running the Reisling event across the street and a sous chef from The Flying Fig, and latter met two prep cooks from Great Lakes.
In any case, after getting the rundown on the beer menu from the bartender, I opted for the beer sampler. I ended up selecting a good array of beers from their menu. Referring to the picture at right, I had (from left to right), Market Centennial Extra IPA, Old Zahm Oktoberfest, Pearl Street Wheat Beer, Scotch Ale, Cluster Fuggle IPA, and the St Emeric’s Stout.
Usually when I get a sampler like this, I’m usually impressed by one or two of the beers, okay with one or two, and finding one or two lacking. Here, all of these were excellent, but the two IPAs and the Stout were the standouts. The Market Centennial IPA was my distinct favorite; a bold 100+ IBU IPA, brewed with a mix of hops including Centennial, Nelson Sauvin, and Galaxy, this was a very hop-forward IPA, with the hops back up by a suitably matched maltiness, to give a resulting beer that was sold and bold, yet finished rather smoothly. The Cluster Fuggle was a good classic Fuggle IPA, with good clean Fuggles hops and a slightly lighter body (and lower ABV) than the Centennial. From this pair, it’s obvious that Andy Tveekrem still likes a lot of the hop-forward beers like those of Dogfish, but these were a bit more refined. The St Emeric’s stout I liked, since it was your basic, well down Irish Stout. Smooth and mellow instead of bold, this was a nice beer to finish up with, with a light malt sweetness, mild but not overpowering roasted malt and cocoa notes, and just enough hops to round it out.
Moving onto the food, I was impressed that Market Garden has a good array of, well, beer-drinking food. When I first ordered up, I went for their pickle plate. A decently size plate with pickled cucumber, tomato, and chard (I’m not sure I’ve done pickled chard before, but it worked), this was a great appetizer to pair with the beer sample, since the nicely tart pickles nicely balanced out and cleansed my palate between some of the stronger-hopped beers.
I followed this with the currywurst. This was basically your classic German currywurst. Currywurst is one of those things that I’m surprised I don’t see more often in Cleveland, since if there’s one thing going on in the Cleveland restaurant scene, it’s pork. And Cleveland has a decently large German-American population as well. But this is the first time I’ve seen it at a Cleveland bar. But that said, it was done well. Starting with a nicely flavorful pork sausae (I don’t know if this is the product of their charcuterie work, or something locally sourced, but it was good), served up with a really nicely spiced curry ketchup sauce (an obviously house-made one, and not just bottled curry ketchup or ketchup with added curry power). The result was pleasant, and pretty much matched exactly the currywursts I’ve had in Germany. The Chef, Mike Nowak, confessed to me later in the evening over at Bar Cento that he made this dish up without ever having a real German currywurst (but having had one described in detail), and was happy at how well it turned out. I’d call it a success. It was also served up with a reasonable pile of nicely done frites that were the perfectly tool for mopping up the leftover curry sauce.
My third course was the BLT. Not too far off of the normal BLT design, this one featured harissa-marinated tomatoes and a nice aioli, along with the lettuce, and copious amounts of bacon. And another pile of fries (not for next time, make sure I note which items come with fries and sub something else, since while the fries were excellent, I was fried-out after the currywurst). The result of all the was a good BLT, but it wasn’t a great one. This BLT was built more on the “more is better” model of BLT, than really focusing on the ingredients (like the fine folks over at Tuckerbox in Vermont do). Myself, at a place with a kitchen heritage like this place, I expected some better bacon, and a better built sandwich. Still, this was decent enough, but there’s room for improvement here.
Overall, I was very pleased with Market Garden. The beer was spot on, as were the pickles and currywurst. This is definitely also going to make it on my (getting more crowded all the time) Cleveland rotation.