Ever since Sarah Pederson opened Saraveza in October 2008, it has been a spot for three things: hop heads, cheese heads (Pederson is a Wisconsin native; it’s a Packers bar) and pasties. Not the kind of pasties you find at strip clubs of yore but the Cornish inspiration for the bane of Jim Gaffigan’s existence, Hot Pockets. Eight years later, much is the same in the awesomest sense, but now Saraveza boasts a proper kitchen. Oh, the hearty pasties remain in order to aptly soak up a few frosted mugs of Breakside Wisco, the hoppier than thine cream ales, but now... now there are fried cheese curds.
I’ve only been to Wisconsin once in my life, but you betcha I feasted on cheese curds both fresh and fried. And the ones Saraveza chef Dustin Gettmann fries up in the pub’s new deep fryer are the gut-bomb. Tender. Melty. Golden. Salty. And while the spicy ketchup they’re served with offends my West Coast sensibilities, they would go great with a spicy beer, such as the kind that’ll be tapped at the upcoming return of Fire and Brimstone (Sat Nov 12), a fiesta of smoked and/or chili cervezas.
Gettmann worked at Saraveza back when it opened. Then he went on something of a walkabout, or rather a ride-about, having pedaled his way through lands and kitchens coast to coast and overseas. But the Pacific Northwest beckoned, and when he returned, he manned the kitchen at pFriem Family Brewers in Hood River—one of the finest brewpub menus
in Oregon anywhere. When memories of veggie bowls haunt you, you know it’s good.
And now there are veggies at Saraveza. I mean, perhaps not super healthy ones—the butter lettuce salad’s topped with bacon bits, the radicchio salad’s calorically dressed, and the cauliflower makes like the curds in that it’s fried, too—but when aficionados tell themselves beer is salad “because hops,” it’s all well and good.
When asked to describe the approach to his menu, Gettmann said, “Humble food.” He’s not vying for a James Beard Award with his fried chicken, yummy though it may be. Small plates like the lamb ’n’ pork meatballs go with whatever the IPA on tap is (especially when it’s Russian River Blind Pig). In short, when we demand that restaurants have a good beer menu to go with the food, it’s nice to see a beer spot not just have a truck parked outside but usher in a meal-worthy kitchen. And yeah, there’s an array of sandos from smoked brisket to fried oyster po’boys now, but it’s still nice to be comforted by the calzone of the Midwest—a pasty.
1004 N Killingsworth
Open 11am-midnight daily