Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It rhymes with long

I've tweeted about it, but 140 characters doesn't quite allow one to do it justice. Ngon Bistro, on University and Avon in the heart of Frogtown, is a mere four blocks from my house, and I couldn't ask for a better restaurant/beer bar so close to home.

They offer standard--well actually above standard--Vietnamese fare. Their pho soup and bun salads are top notch, and they also offer higher end entrees ($16 - $20) that are fantastic. But my favorite menu items are the small plates, offered for $5 during happy hour: a walleye sandwich with amazing sweet potato fries, chicken skewers in lemongrass sauce, elk noodle salad, pork belly with wasabi pureed Brussel sprouts and potatoes, chicken pate on baguette and ginger beet salad. Plus, being the cheap-ass that I am, I appreciate that all their beers are $1 off and Minnesota wines are $2 off.

Oh, and the beers. Only Minnesota beers, with seasonal and cask offerings. Owner Hai Truong is a true beer advocate and has his own firkins, which local breweries fill with special offerings. They just finished a cask of Surly oak-aged Cynic, and up next is some lovely Summit Winter. Surly Smoke is still on tap from New Year's Eve, when they also finished a keg of Surly Darkness.

My only complaint is the hours. On weeknights they close at 9pm, and at 10pm on the weekend. Of course, there are only one maybe two tables with customers when I've been there at closing, so it's probably just me being selfish. But still, I'd like to think that they could sustain being open an hour longer.

So next time you're in the mood for a fantastic Vietnamese meal with a finely-crafted Minnesota beer, head over to Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Welcome back!

As I sit here drinking a John Barleycorn Barleywine from Mad River Brewing in California, you can rightly assume that I am back on beer (and tomatoes and peaches, although my drinking beer might not lead you to assume that).

See, despite cutting the aforementioned libations from my diet, my symptoms didn't really improve drastically. So, we continue to hunt. The symptoms seem to have gotten better, due to a combination of stopping the steroid inhaler as it was causing thrush, which can mimic the symptoms, and switching my reflux medicine to one that has anti-histamine properties, and you know, eosinophilic esophagitis is caused in part by allergies.

But really, I'm kinda tired talking about it. And besides, the doc told me its not a progressive disorder and they don't actually know a ton about it anyway.

So I'm drinking beer again. Highlights of the past few weeks back on the sauce? Ketchup. Seriously. I missed beer, but fries with mayo or an egg sandwich with hoisin sauce or hotdogs with only mustard just didn't cut it.

But yeah...08 and 09 Surly Darkness were fine moments for Xmas and New Years, love the new offerings from 21st Amendment Brewing (another craft beer in a can!), Nogne 0 Dark Horizon 1st Edition was a surprising treat at a beer tasting I had, Summit Scottish Ale and Schell's Snowstorm were local seasonal releases that I was looking forward to drinking more than about anything.

But really, the thing I missed most? Drinking good beer with good friends while watching a football game or bottling beer or listening to Phish or hanging out on the couch with my family. It's good to be back!