It's girls night out and we've got one destination: Biermarkt. Monday is Martini and Manicure night and we're fascinated with the idea of holding a martini in one hand and having a manicure on the other.
Six of us troop in from the cold and are greeted with such a warm welcome that we're happy we've braved the windy corridor of the Esplanade. Think of a vast beer theme park with class and you've got the picture. Since we're here to add a little polish to our Monday, we're led through the dar
k wood paneled room, past the gleaming equipment at the bar that offers way over a hundred beer selections of bottles and several dozen on tap. At the rear, where large polished wood picnic tables can seat groups of ten or so, we're handed today's signature Martini, a pretty peach concoction. A few steps up to yet another section of tables, the lovely estheticians from BabySpa have their manicure stations set up, and if fifteen minutes, we walk away with a sleek manicure. And in case you wondered, the guys can have a manicure too.
We're ready for dinner, waving our newly polished fingernails to a few friends at the bar who are having a Lowenbrau and a ciggy to come join us for dinner.
Our table is set up in the front dining room, and we're delighted by the two page menu. This is a carefully thought out listing that offers much more than what we'd consider a regular pub menu. No surprise-the Executive Chef is Neils Kjelson, who has won many kudos over the years during a long and memorable culinary career which included the Sutton Place and Four Seasons Hotel.
Sharing is what we're all about tonight. The cheese and Lager fondue in a white ceramic pot over a flame, with as many fondue forks as we ask for, is a luscious melting of cheeses that include gruyere, emmental, cheddar with the unmistakable flavor of Stella Artois coming through. We spear a whole wheat or white bread chunk on our forks and swirl it through the melting cheese. Swiss tradition says that if you lose your bread in the fondue, you must kiss the person on your right. On my right there's a table of guys eating 14oz. AAA strip steaks and frites. What if they're not aware of the tradition? I am careful not to lose even one chunk of bread.
Belgian flatbreads called flamekueches are thin, crusty and pizza-like, and come with any one of a trio of toppings that include smoked chicken, grilled vegetables, or in-house Vodka smoked salmon, atop mascarpone cheese, capers and red onion. This too, is a perfect dish to share.
But it's the mussels from Rodney's Oyster House, hand graded at his Aqua Farms in New London Bay, P.E.I. that we're really looking forward to. Can six women agree on which mussels to order? Congo is a favorite with red Thai curry, leeks, coconut milk and lime; Bloody Caesar with clamato, roasted garlic, Italian parsley, celery and vodka are discussed and voted down. In the end, we settle on a classic that appeals to all. Plump Provencal mussels steamed in tomatoes, white wine, garlic and herbs de Provence , and they come in two size servings, 1/2 kilo or 1 kilo. A cone of frites with seasoned mayonnaise, served Belgian style, is an added treat.
Each day, there's a plat du jour, a dish of the day. Monday, it's a frittata casalinga, a mix of eggs and tomatoes with roasted garlic bread and a salad of autumn greens. Thursday, one of Biermarkt's hottest nights, they serve beef stroganoff flambéed with vodka. Friday night there is Bouillabaisse.
This is the kind of friendly restaurant where they're as happy to see a dine-alone as they are to seat a table of six.