Before we get to the food, a bit about the concept, which started a couple states away in the city of Chicago, at Goose Island Brewery. Apparently, each year Goose Island and Frontera restaurant (Rick Bayless) brew a limited amount of a special beer. After it is brewed, Frontera then offers SOHO a keg of this rare creation.
When SOHO chef/owner Nolan Konkoski accepted the offer this year, he knew it was time to kick it up. So he called his former boss and longtime friend Eric Williams at Momocho, and suggested another pop up. Their second time around, both chefs worked tirelessly to bring the menu to life. “We tried over and over, honing down the menu until it was a true fusion of SOHO and Momocho,” Konkoski explains.
The theme: Beer and Tacos, a nod to the ongoing Cleveland Beer Week. The name: “SOMOCHO,” which summarizes the true fusion of the concept, menu and drink.
I popped (no pun intended) into the event last night to find a menu that said it all: “Beer and Tacos.” The rare keg of beer from Goose Island was a Marisol Belgium Pale Ale. It was served in flights, along with Goose Island IPA and other ales that were theme-related and seasonal. Additionally, bartenders were slinging some beer-fused cocktails. The Red Rooster, a blend of the Marisol Belgium Ale with tequila, chile fresno, red bell pepper and agave nectar, had the kick of a cockfighting rooster on steroids. It was tasty, bold and unique.
Standing on its own, the Marisol Belgium Ale was very refreshing. It has that softened taste you expect from south of the border ales, but with much more depth. The trip was worth it for that alone.
When you think of Southern cooking you think of fried chicken, and when you think of Mexican cuisine you think of tamales. So it was a no-brainer to order the Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Tamales. The chicken breasts (boneless) were battered perfectly. The sweet potato and masa tamale was moist and held its consistency. The two stars of the dish were the red chile and chocolate mole — quite possibly the best mole sauce I have ever tasted, and I don’t say that lightly. The other star was not only my attentive server Chrissy, but her suggestion to add a sunny side egg to the dish. This worked magic with the mole sauce, really elevating the taste profiles.
I forced myself (wink wink) to try the Mini Pecan Pie for dessert. I wanted to sample the chocolate-chipotle crème, which was incredible. I loved the heat from the chipotle following the sweetness of the chocolate. Too bad the pictures posted with this item are not scratch-and-sniff. Hopefully this “mash up” is not a one-time deal.
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