Flying Dog Beer Brinner at Alexandra's American Fusion
Breakfast for dinner. For some people, it’s a last-ditch, thrown-together, less-than-ideal meal. For me, it’s a welcome excuse to eat my favorite foods more than once a day. Eggs and pancakes and (HELLO!) bacon? Yes, please. All the time, please.
So when I heard that Alexandra’s American Fusion, one of my favorite HoCo haunts, was doing another beer dinner and the theme was breakfast for dinner (a “brinner,” if you will), I had to go.
Once a quarter or so, Alexandra’s teams up with a brewery or vineyard (they especially like to promote local companies) to come up with a fun, five-course menu that pairs beer or wine with Alexandra’s great food. It’s an intimate affair, no more than a couple dozen tickets available, hosted in one of the restaurant’s private rooms. They put your party’s name on a tabletop placard to make you feel that much more special.
Once dinner is served, Chef Chris Vocci comes out and introduces each course, and a rep from the featured brewery/vineyard also introduces the beverage pairing. It’s so much fun to see the thought and care that goes into coordinating complimentary flavor profiles.
They’re like matchmakers for your mouth.
On this particular evening, Vocci and Flying Dog took us on a culinary journey through Mexico, the UK, Texas, and Nashville. All of those flavors on one plate. Okay, five plates, but you get it.
The first course was dubbed the Mexican Hangover Cure—spicy menudo, with Vocci subbing out the traditional tripe for locally sourced pork belly. The rich broth tasted like it had been slowly percolating for hours, and the pork belly was delightfully tender. It paired perfectly with Flying Dog’s Numero Uno—their version of a Corona. Delightfully crushable at 4.9% ABV, it features a hint of lime flavor, so there’s no need to push a lime wedge down into the bottle and pray to God it doesn’t bubble over like a hop-scented volcano.
Next up, we dug into the chef’s take on a traditional English breakfast, complete with black pudding. I’m an Anglophile through and through, but even I have a hard time stomaching the thought of black pudding—a dish that gets its ebony hue thanks to copious quantities of animal blood. I decided to give it a go, however, when Chef presented it along with a fried egg, broiled tomato, and steel cut oatmeal risotto. It was … okay. I think it’ll take a few more trips across the pond for me to build up a real liking for it. I did, however, greatly enjoy its pairing with Flying Dog’s Counter Culture ale—with hints of earl grey tea, it plucked my Brit-loving heartstrings.
Our third course brought us into the heart of Nashville—chicken and waffles, but not just any chicken and waffles. Chicken thighs marinated in buttermilk before being heavily coated in spices, breaded, and fried, presented atop a sweet potato waffle and citrus-cayenne maple molasses. Sweet and savory—hello, Heaven. The dish paired splendidly with Flying Dog’s Bloodline IPA—one of my favorites. This brew packs more of a punch at 7% ABV and, being an IPA, the punch from the hops grounds the citrus flavor with a nice harmony.
By the fourth course, we were already starting to fill up, but goodness me, we had no idea what deliciousness we were about to happen upon: Green Eggs and Lamb. I’ve got a soft spot for lamb—my grandpa loved it, and my dad still makes it on occasion. I love its dark yet warm flavor. So as much as it pains me to eat a teeny tiny baby sheep—damn if it isn’t tasty. Chef Vocci’s preparation gave us smoked lamb shank that you could cut with a fork, it was so tender, paired with a spinach, mint, and feta frittata (that’s the green eggs bit) and basil chimichurri. It was positively decadent—my favorite dish of the evening, washed down with Flying Dog’s Mint Julep ale, which provided a nice light touch to a pretty hefty dish.
I’m not going to lie—by the fifth course, we were absolutely stuffed. But how do you say no to brisket, biscuits, and, above all, Hollandaise sauce? The answer is—you don’t. You take a few bites and then politely signal your waiter for a doggie bag. Vocci’s “Texas Benedict” featured a 9-hour smoked brisket, housemade cheddar-chive buttermilk biscuits, and a—are you ready for this?—chipotle-orange BACON Hollandaise. Paired with Flying Dog’s Cold-Pressed Coffee Porter, it was a delectable breakfast explosion that cause even the most seasoned of palates to pause.
If you ever want a special treat, sign up for whichever special dinner Alexandra’s is hosting next. I’ve been to a few now, and I can tell you—they never disappoint. Their next event on September 24 features Milkhouse Brewery beers and a farm-to-table menu, including Berkshire pork, Holy Grail oysters, and a goat cheese-ricotta cheesecake.
Is your mouth watering yet?