After 37 years of marriage your spouse sometimes finds it hard to come up with a birthday present that has some element of uniqueness to it, but I have to say that last year she discovered an experience that left me completely satisfied. Don’t let your mind wander any farther than the long-time Eugene restaurant the 6th Street Restaurant & Sports Bar.
The day before my birthday my wife heard a radio ad promoting a five-course dinner that included a head-to-head blind beer tasting. She isn’t a beer drinker, so my good friend Brad became my birthday dinner date.
Arriving a bit early, Brad and I chatted in the bar and enjoyed a pint from a good selection of local beers. Had I known what the blind beer competition at dinner would involve I would have avoided our pre-dinner beer! Suffice it to say that there was an ample amount of beer involved during dinner!
Chef Gabriel Weaver came to 6th Street Restaurant & Sports Bar about a year earlier and brought along an extensive background in gastro pub food. He didn’t disappoint us or anyone else in the room from what we could tell from comments heard around the room. As I describe the five courses, let me say a few words about the beer we had the pleasure of tasting. Eugene’s Oakshire Brewery was pitted against Three Creeks Brewing out of Sisters, Oregon. Each brewmaster was given Chef Gabriel’s menu and asked to pair the right beer with each course. As the course were introduced, the beers were distributed. Receiving roughly 8 oz pours, we were given every opportunity to thoroughly compare the beer while enjoying the food pairing.
I wish I had recorded each beer. I didn’t. However, I did compile what each food course included and as each course came out Chef Gabriel provided an excellent description:
Round 1: Spiced bacon wrapped cognac terrine
Round 2: An arugula salad with zucchini, carrot ribbons, toasted pumpkin seeds and artichoke hearts with a honey Dijon vinaigrette.
Round 3: Ratatouille with shaved eggplant, tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini with an oregano garlic tomato coulis.
Round 4: An herb roasted lamb chop over a smoked jalapeno root vegetable puree and a garlic Parmesan bacon kale finished with fried leeks.
Round 5: Dessert was a spiced pumpkin cream puff!
Following each course the brewmasters provided information on the beer they chose to pair with that course. Our votes were tallied and the winner of that round was announced. As the night wore on the crowd became more animated in their applause and recognition of the effort of the chef and the brewmasters. While each brewery won a couple of rounds it was Oakshire that was crowned the night’s champion. For the $39 entry fee, I think all of us diners were the real winners!
Since then, I've ducked back into the restaurant to see the results of their spring/summer makeover. 6th Street Restaurant & Sports Bar has transformed the dining space into a more open layout and added a whiskey bar! (Perhaps whiskey pairings in the future?) With the same great food and the addition of a whiskey bar, who knows, my birthday is right around the corner and I may need to call Brad for another date. Though I suspect my wife will want to come this time!