Friday, May 23, 2008

$13 at ... Bier Market and Bar Cento

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 2:43 PM

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In this weekly feature, C-Notes stretches your dollar at restaurants around the region, because fishing change out of the couch cushions is only a sustainable investment policy for so long. This week … McNulty’s Bier Markt / Bar Cento 1948 West 25th Street, 216-344-9944, www.bier-markt.com For Scene’s full review, click here. What $13 got us: Two Hoegaardens ($3 each), happy bianco pizza ($5), a split order of happy Ohio fries ($3). What else $13 can get you: A bunch of beer and wine specials and happy hour specials: a happy Ohio burger ($6), happy veggie burger ($5), happy Duvel steamed mussels with beer and butter ($5), happy warm marinated olives ($3). All of the regularly-priced pizzas are well under $13 (though they’re not called happy, so we’ll just assume they’re content) like: Puttanesca pizza with tomato sauce, capers, olives, provolone and anchovy ($10) and the spring onion pizza with leeks, provolone and pepperocini ($11.) The Verdict: Amazing pizza and amazing beers. Are you in your car yet? ... What to do with champagne tastes on a Bud Light budget? Or, more precisely, what to do with De Dolle Stille Nacht or Koningshoeven Quadrupel Trappist Ale tastes on a Bud Light budget? The place to go for these beers (not the Bud) and uncountable more, equally euphoniously-named brews is unquestionably Ohio City’s Bier Markt. And fortunately for we who have $13 on which to dine, they have a fine happy hour. With a healthy selection of discounted suds and tantalizing fare from the other half of the biz—Bar Cento — this happy hour is one of the favorites that I’ve found. The menu is prone to change, keeping things exciting and seasonal, and there’s always some new brew begging to be quaffed. Running every day of the week from 4:30 -7, this happy hour is generous in more than just its offerings. I’m not alone in my affinity; the bar was plenty packed on a random brisk Tuesday. The tables were all full in the dusky bar. The dark wood, sweeping red draperies, and artsy fixtures provide the perfect backdrop for an intimate conversation or a gathering with corworkers or friends. Luckily, my friend and I were able to score two seats at the bar. I settled in for my first of two $3 Hoegaardens, and she worked on her Brooklyn IPA. Ravenous, we immediately ordered up our grub—she opted for the happy hour veggie burger for $5, and I couldn’t resist the call of the happy bianco pizza ($5). We agreed to split the happy Ohio fries ($3). My pizza was eat-the-crumbs-off-of-the-plate fantastic. I recently developed a slight addiction to sauceless white pizzas, and since my return, few pies have lived up to expectations. This one matched, crunchy bite for crunchy bite, the pies I once inhaled across Italy. The perfectly cooked, crisp crust was topped with buttery melted mozzarella and mellow, sweet, thin-sliced garlic. Although it would give my Orbit a run for its money later on, the garlic really shone through in this dish—the spicy punch of flavor peaking through the sweetness that properly cooked garlic imbues to a dish. All in all, perfection. Envying the slice of pizza I gave my friend, I consoled myself with the excellent fries. Thick-cut and fresh, they were lightly flavored with fresh rosemary and salt. They saw me through my second beer as my companion gushed about her veggie burger. She’s had plenty of them, at otherwise great restaurants, that she says were completely lackluster. This one was fresh and juicy, not to mention ginormous, and topped with fresh lettuce, tomato and thin-cut onion. The patty was exalting in what it is—vegetables—rather than lamely pretending to be meat. It was moist and altogether pleasing. Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s commitment to local, seasonal ingredients elevates this cuisine from bar noshes to a truly memorable meal. The scene is chill, the beer selection impeccable, and the food addictive. We’ll be going back. Soon. -- Tori Woods

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