Monday, April 8, 2013

Stein's Beer Garden: Mountain View Gastro Pub

We dined at this new gastro pub, Stein's Beer Garden, last night, very excited to see them finally open! Those of you that follow me on twitter will remember when I went to bat for the owners at the Mountain View City Council meeting last July.

It's a good start, but there's still room for improvement.

When we arrived and checked in with the hostess, we were told it would be a 10-15 minute wait. No problem. Another party of 2 came in about 5 minutes after us... and were seated before us.  Then another hostess asked if we'd been helped, yet (10 minutes into our wait). Apparently my name wasn't on the wait list.  Thus, we restarted our wait of 10-15 minutes. I wish they would just take reservations, or hand out pagers or something. Some places in SF (21st Amendment comes to mind) take your mobile number and page you. That would work, too.

There is an extensive beer menu, which is awesome, but too heavy a lean on some great breweries like the Bruery who only specialize in strong beers. If you're an IPA, amber or lager fan, you'll be hard pressed to find anything under 7.5% ABV (many more over 8 or 9% and even 11%!). The fruit beers were closer to 5%, but if you don't like fruit  flavor in your beer you'll be at a loss. There were also a few porter and stouts at the lower ABV, but not much overall choice (and there are 31 taps, so there should be a wider range  of styles/ABV). I had the Saison Extra, and it was excellent. The menu described it as the saisoniest saison - and they were right. Delicious. As it was a strong beer, I didn't have a second.

I ordered the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup - very yummy, though the bread was a bit greasy.  I can manage to make non greasy grilled cheese at home, so this should be possible to do here, too.  The bread itself was wonderful (made in house) so should be left to shine!

My husband got the homemade pastrami. The pastrami itself was very fatty, so it probably didn't need the cheese. The menu also said the sandwich would be served on toasted rye bread, but for unknown reasons, this sandwich was also grilled. The last thing you need on a sandwich with fatty meat is butter! It was too greasy for my husband to finish.

This makes me think that in general, the cooks should be trained to use less butter/grease. Reading other reviews, I see other similar comments. Great menu ideas, but not quite executed correctly.

Service was great, though like some other Yelp! reviews, we noted that the acoustics were terrible.  The ambiance is simply gorgeous, but something needs to be done about the noise.  In Paris, we saw a few restaurants and bars that put acoustic foam on the ceilings to deaden the noise. I'd highly recommend something similar.

I will be back. I hope the beer menu gets more balance soon - yes, do stock some "heavy hitters", but have some more 4-6%  ABV beers for those of us that like to have more than one beer with dinner.

Update:  I went again on Friday night. The beer list had changed quite a bit in those 5 days, and there were quite a few lower ABV beers than on Sunday, and a better mix - though I loved that Saison Extra so much, I had it again.  This time, the hostess took my cell phone number and name when we checked it in and wrote it on a clipboard.  Still an outrageous wait (1 hour 45 minutes), but good to know we were on the list.

My husband and I both ordered the "Pork and Beans" dinner, and it was just delicious.  Our other 3 friends ordered burgers. One ordered his rare with blue cheese. Another ordered his plain and well done.  The well done burger had the blue cheese on it. We also had to ask multiple people for cutlery after our food was delivered so that we could actually eat it.  Ketchup for the fries was slow coming as well.  So, still some service glitches but I'm happy to report improvements all around.