For the past few years, I’ve been doing my best to attend every beer dinner at Sal & Mookie’s. Each dinner has been a sterling example of creativity as Jeff Good & Dan Blumenthal put on an engaging combination of captivating speakers and imaginative pairings but as much as I enjoy the Sal & Mookie’s productions, I kept hoping for more. As luck would have it, last year, during a visit to Cleveland, a friend of mine was able to secure a few spots at a Dogfish Head brewery dinner at Michael Symon’s Lolita. It was there I saw the beer dinner concept taken to a new level. The beers were more complex, the individualized portions were a revelation, and the food was on another level. Since then I’ve been waiting to see another Jackson restaurant’s take on the beer dinner, and when Parlor Market announced a Yazoo Brewery beer dinner, I raced to the phone to make a reservation.
Right off the bat, there was a wholly tangible difference between a Parlor Market and Sal & Mookie’s beef dinner, namely the introduction of the beer. At Sal & Mookie’s, the moment you walk in a beer is placed in your hand while the black & red clad wait staff buzzes around the dining room refilling your glass the moment it’s less than half full. At Parlor Market, I was shown to my seat at the bar and I waited for the first beer and waited and waited. I eventually noticed full bar service was available so I went for a warm up cocktail. As soon as Stephen joined me at our bar seats, we agreed that the option for the full bar is nice, but the bottomless glass of the first beer was sorely missed.
After everyone had enjoyed their chance to mingle and discuss the upcoming Top of the Hops festival, the first Yazoo beer arrived.
Paired with the Pale Ale was the first course, a Southern Fritto Misto, basically everything great, glorious, and Southern, deep fried and served with a smoky comeback sauce.
Oysters, green tomatoes, okra, summer squash, shrimp, it was a massive portion of fried produce and seafood.
Like their smoky pimento cheese, I’m a fan of Parlor’s comeback, but with this heavy fried seafood, it was like a deep fried brick in my stomach. Thankfully the hoppiness of the Pale Ale cut through the rich greasiness of the comeback and fried food. It was an extremely well executed pairing and made the whole Southern Fritto Misto quite enjoyable.
The next beer from Yazoo Brewing was their Hefewiezen.
However my dismissed prayers for citrus were answered in the form of Jufran Deviled Eggs.
Based on jufran (banana ketchup) and topped with a banana chip, I wouldn’t have thought that banana and eggs would work together so well. As for the citrus, the arugula salad was topped with oranges, radishes, almonds, and citrus vinaigrette, enough citrus to liven up any hefewiezen.
Moving to the third course, the beer changed to Yazoo’s Dos Perros.
Yazoo’s take on a Mexican style beer, the Dos Perros was well suited to the arctic char entrée.
This dish was awash in Latin flavors, running the gamut with cumin scented aioli, roasted corn, cotija cheese, cilantro bubbles and chili rubbed arctic char.
Our fourth and final course took an even darker turn with the Sly Rye Porter.
While wallowing in our chocolate and beer fueled excess, the good people at Parlor and Yazoo surprised us with a final beer for the night, Yazoo’s Hop Project.
Served in a souvenir glass, Hop Project is an ipa for people who love their hops.
With this beer, the Yazoo Brewery beer dinner at Parlor Market came to a close. Was it better than Sal & Mookie’s? It’s really unfair to compare the two, they each take a different approach to the beer dinner concept and they each put forth a hugely satisfying product. However. I will admit that Parlor’s beer dinner seemed a little more refined and daring with its combinations. Regardless, I’m happy to see another Jackson restaurant work its magic with the beers we have available in our state. The bottom line is that the next time I see the announcement for a beer dinner, be it Parlor, Sal & Mookie’s, or any other Jackson institution, I’ll do my best to be there.