You might recall a while ago – long before my curmudgeonly rant of last week – I posted about an event called the Brewer’s Plate. If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen the tweets, as well. And you may have wondered what it was all about.
Well, much like the upcoming, and sold out!, Savor event in Washington, DC, the annual, Toronto-based Brewer’s Plate is a beer and food partnering event, featuring local breweries and some of the top chefs in town. This was my third Plate, and I think the best thus far.
Note the “thus far,” part of that line above. Because as good as the Brewer’s Plate has become, it’s still not where I think it can be in terms of quality and effectiveness. Here’s why.
The Venue: No room for improvement here! Roy Thompson Hall is an ideal setting for events like the Brewer’s Plate – and the upcoming Spirit of Toronto – and should be held on to with an iron grip.
The Beer: The local angle is good, but limiting. There is now great beer available in Toronto from across Canada and around the world, in styles local brewers have not yet even attempted, much less mastered, and the inclusion of some out-of-province brands would surely benefit the scope of the Plate.
The Food: Here’s where I think the most work needs to be done. Not that any of the food I tasted was sub-par or even ordinary – all the dishes I sampled were at least good, sometimes very good and occasionally great – but more effort needs to go into matching beer and food, in my opinion. At too many of the stands was I told that “any of these beers” will pair well with the food, regardless of how disparate they may have been in style and taste, and too often I heard the tired old refrain that Dish X was cooked with Beer Y – usually in some innocuous way, such as using it to colour a sauce or braise a meat – and thus is also paired with Beer Y. That may have flown in the mid-1990s, but certainly we’re now sophisticated enough that we can and should expect more of a food and beer partnership.
The Organization and Service: Again, I thought everything was superbly managed, after the slight confusion at the door when the event first opened, and the service was first-rate.
So there you have it, Brewer’s Plate. Work on the food, perhaps add a bit more beer and I think you have the potential to lay claim to one of this country’s best beer events.