Mill Valley’s Hippest Hangout

24 Jan

MVBeerworks-9Mill Valley needed a place like this: somewhere young and new; a place that’s not full of families and empty-nesters.

Originally just beer and bar snacks when it opened a few years ago, Beerworks underwent a recent expansion to include a full kitchen that cooks up a full menu. The offerings change fairly often, but there are always many vegetable-centric small plates, as well as main courses featuring seafood and meat.

In August when the full menu debuted, the food was a little dissapointing, but since then the restaurant recieved 3 stars (Excellent) from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer who also included in it his top 10 new restaurants of 2012. On my recent visit, the food proved to be better, and the hour wait was additional evidence that they must be doing something right. This destination spot was also just recognized for their Four Brothers California brew by the Good Food Awards. Beer dominates the backside of the menu, (or front depending on your priorities) with a huge selection that varies but seems to always feature many local brews, as well as some from other parts of the state and country, and some from Europe, particularly Germany and Belgium. Wines and ciders are also menu.

The narrow space offers an array of mostly communal style seating, with low tables in the front, high tables in the back, a long high bar area, and a few low seats on the short side of the bar. My party sat at a hight table in the back, which was not as uncomfortable as I though it would be. The lively atmosphere and warm lighting helped make the night cozier. I really like the slender gold rimmed beer glasses with Beerworks’ deer logo on them. Even the smell of the place is good, which has reminded me of Brooklyn ever since I first walked by years ago; it’s probably the beer, dark wood furniture, and candles.

We started our meal with some small plates to share: cauliflower with lemon and chili flakes, and roasted brussels sprouts. A little later, I recieved my kale salad. The cauliflower was succulent and delicious and I wanted to lick up the sauce from the plate, but resisted. The brussels sprouts were well cooked and yummy as well. My salad had a little more dressing than I would’ve liked, but no alterations to the plates are allowed, otherwise I would’ve gotten the dressing on the side. But I still had no trouble eating the whole thing. I love kale period, but the salad, which also came with onions and beets, was pretty good.

My main course, the red trout, was supposed to come with artichokes, which was part of the reason I ordered it, but they had just run out without telling us. There were cranberry beans on the plate instead, but when I asked about it, they offered to bring me out a vegetable dish of my choosing, so I chose more cauliflower since it was very good and I didn’t get much of it from the shared plate. The trout had crispy skin and had some spice to it. It was cooked very well: nice and moist, but other than the spice and some oil, I didn’t think it had much flavor. Overall I think the vegetable dishes and atmosphere are the best parts of Beerworks. I was still a little underwhelmed by some of the food, but it is pretty good and definitely worth a visit. They’re open for Blue Bottle Coffee everyday form 7-3, for weekday lunches from 11:30-3, weekend brunches from 10-3, and dinner everyday from 5.

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