Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Biermarkt- Shops @ Don Mills

Biermarkt has recently opened a third location of their popular European inspired beer bistros in the open-air Shops at Don Mills (and Lawrence). With a 30 page beer menu featuring over 100 brands from 24 different countries, beer is obviously their focus. Taking over a brand new space, next to the always rammed Joey restaurant, Biermarkt does have some stiff competition. But the gleaming brass, spotless poured concrete floors and everything looking so top notch and brand new, beer aficionados in the north end of the city may just migrate to this gastro pub instead.

Service is all good looking twenty-somethings in the universal all black server’s uniform. One thing noticeable from when we walked in is the abundance of smiling staff. The hostesses, bartenders, even the manager sweeping the floor, all seemed to have a spring in their step. They clearly put service first, and that’s something that has been majorly absent from most comparative places.  After stumbling through the gargantuan menus, impressed by not only the vast beer choices, but also the smart wine list, we ordered the featured Jupiler ($7.52), a Belgian blonde-lager first brewed in 1853, in the hefty and festive 20 ounce boot. We matched our boots with the cheese and lager fondue for two ($20). Accompanied by fresh cut Granny Smith apples, clammy pre-cooked fingerling potatoes and ‘Bistro’ bread, the cheese is served warm and further heated by the table side fondue flame. The cheese mixture is a little flat though, the blend of Appenzeller, Emmental and Racelette cheeses get lost in the buttery Stella-Artois based broth.

The Congo mussels ($13) however, are tender and chewy, swimming in a vat of tangy red Thai curry coconut milk, lemon grass and a squeeze of fresh lime. The menu says it’s a ½ kilo of mussels, but the portion seems much larger to me. The warm rosemary roll made sopping up the delectably spicy sauce a treat. Pairing it with the markt frites ($5) made it a salty and satisfying meal.

Equally tempting was the veal Schnitzel ($24). Crusted in panko, the giant veal cutlet was a smidge on the greasy side, but worth the belt busting. It was well balanced with the creamy Yukon mash, crisp grilled asparagus and sweet tomato jam. Swirled around the veal cutlets were two marvellous dipping options, a lemon-caper emulsion and a marmite scented veal reduction.

Biermarkt at Shops at Don Mills is pretty identical to the other locations, other than the different demographic; Esplanade and King St have a definite downtown collection (or some might say 905 on certain nights), whereas Don Mills is more of a casual local vibe. With live music options on the busier nights, and never a cover, beer lovers opting to steer clear of King West or the Esplanade finally have a safe haven amongst the other narrow (ahem, Firkin) choices in the north.

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