Kitsilano's August Jack restaurant matches tapas with craft beer
Fans of craft beer take note: there's a new restaurant in Kitsilano that takes its craft beer as seriously as its food.
The August Jack Tapas & Craft House opened July 19 at 2042 West 4th Avenue. (The restaurant is named after August Jack Khatsahlano, the Squamish chief.) The menu consists of Pacific Northwest-style small plates, and every item, including the desserts, is listed with a suggested beer pairing.
The restaurant currently offers eight craft beers on tap, including Storm Brewing's Black Plague Stout, Alameda's Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA, and Delirium’s Tremens. Very soon, there will be a new floor-to-ceiling glass display fridge, which will facilitate six more rotating craft beer taps, and showcase up to 80 varieties of bottled craft beer.
Chef Benjamin Curtis, who was the opening chef at Portland Craft and then moved to Public Lounge Eatery, is a big craft beer fan himself. "When I was 14 years old, I helped my dad with his home brew," he tells the Georgia Straight in an interview at the restaurant. "I put all the caps on the bottles. That started my love of craft beer at an early age."
Some of his dishes were created to match a certain beer, and others inspired a beer pairing. Some dishes are even made with beer; for example, the micro greens salad is dressed with an IPA strawberry vinaigrette. "A really hoppy IPA works nicely with the sweetness of the strawberries," he explains.
The tapas menu focuses on local, seasonal ingredients and incorporates a lot of Oceanwise seafood, such as rare-seared albacore tuna. Chef Curtis sources his oysters from Sawmill Bay Shellfish on Read Island. "They're the best oysters that I've ever eaten," he says, and he serves them on the half shell and pan-seared.
Curtis's mussels come from the same supplier; for his signature dish, he simmers them in Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter along with caramelized onions, tarragon, and a splash of cream. "The porter gives it a savory, rich flavour rather than a dessert-style sweetness," he says. He suggests pairing the mussels with a Hopworks Cascadia Dark Ale.
The restaurant also offers a cheese list, as well as wine, and is working on flights pairing four cheeses and four beers. "A lot of my cheeses are from Quebec," Curtis says, but others, such as the mild Tiger Blue, come from B.C.
The August Jack plans to host beer makers' dinners and tap takeovers. It's currently open every day from 5 p.m. until late; weekend brunch is coming soon.