Chef Bill takes over the Strong Place Kitchen: Cobble Hill, BK

23 Dec

Chef Bill Seleno is nothing if not an alchemist.  The moment he touches an everyday ingredient, it becomes gold.  His last opening was creating the menu for King’s Clam Bar, and now he has taken on a new huge, multi-pronged project that is sure to further enhance Brooklyn as a food lovers destination (more on that will be posting in the New Year).  He has started by working with the team at Strong Place, a Cobble Hill staple.

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Strong Place is known in the neighborhood for their craft beer, live music, and great food.

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And Chef Bill has come in to up the ante even further, adding some Chef Bill touches to the menu. Working with the bar manager, a Cicerone (a beer sommelier), they created a menu that perfectly pairs with the 24 craft beers on tap.

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The restaurant looks solidly like Brooklyn, with a big metal barn door that slides open for the bathroom.DSCF3609

They have many great craft beers on tap.

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With beers from all across the country and lots of Allagash (one of my favorite beers from Maine) and Firestone (a favorite brought to my attention by good friends in Atlanta).

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Chef Bill had arranged to have us do a tasting of the menu with beer pairings from the knowledgeable and excited Cicerone (we hadn’t told Bill I was preggers yet… we told him when we arrived)

Between the beer and the extensive, check-off oyster list, I was very bummed to be limited by my pregnancy.

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But the moment these voluptuous beauties came out, I knew I was going to cheat.  Much to my protective husband’s chagrin.  I had one. ONE!  I shouldn’t have done it. But I just couldn’t resist.

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3 months of no alcohol, no soft cheeses, and no raw seafood was making me into a cranky pregnant lady. I also had a sip of each of the beer pairings throughout the meal. Just a sip.  Funny enough, my doctor was more upset about the oyster than the beer.  So… no more oysters.  But the moment that baby is out, somebody send over a few dozen, okay?

(PS- It was so good… no regrets)

These were paired with a Firestone Walker Pilsner and they went very well together.

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Next out was an awesome bar snack: Fried chick peas.  These were warm and had a little crisp with great flavor. I ate nearly the whole bowl and had to slow myself down to have room for the rest of the meal, and I’m not even a big chick pea fan.  I would go here just for these and a beer in the middle of the day (after June, that is!)  Delish.

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With this they also brought out tequila lime chicken wings (that I couldn’t eat due to a peppers allergy) but Mike very much enjoyed.

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These were paired with Two Roads Octoberfest (from Connecticut) and that went very nicely with the chick peas (and Mike enjoyed with the wings).

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Our next dish was a kale salad with cauliflower, tomato, carrots, brussels sprouts, chick peas, apples, walnuts, and burnt lemon caramelized vinaigrette. This was a FANTASTIC salad. I usually go for salads for all the goodies and view the lettuce/green as simply a conduit to get the other delicious things into my mouth.  This was a perfect salad with lots of goodies and great combinations.

The beer pairing with this was Two Roads Abby Blonde Style, and you wouldn’t normally think of beer with salad, but this totally worked.

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Our next dish was duck confit with horse radish and celery root with bacon.  I LOVE duck confit and this did not disappoint.  Crispy, tasty skin with flavor rich tender meat in the middle.  I don’t typically like horseradish, but the tiny bit I added to my bite did compliment it nicely. And the celery root puree with bacon in it was a great compliment of rich flavors.

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This was paired with Allagash Victor, which is a Belgian style golden strong ale. They extract sugar from barley (basically making oatmeal) and use a Cabernet Franc wine to ferment it.  It went perfectly to cut through the fattyness of the confit while toning down the horse radish a bit.

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Next up was the “Boo-ya-base” which was a twist on a classic bouillabaisse dish.  I couldn’t have this (back to the allergy) but Mike really enjoyed it (sorry for the flash picture… only way to see those delicious mollusks). This dish had some of the craft beers actually IN the recipe to help bring together the flavors and the beer pairings.  The sauce was made with Piperdown Scotch Ale and the potatoes are boiled in Stout.

It was paired with the Allagash Confluence Belgian Strong Ale which goes through 2 fermentations.

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Since I couldn’t have the boo-ya-base, I got to taste a freshly slow cooked pork butt which had all the delicious qualities of slow cooked pig.

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For dessert, we tried the caramel pudding with white chocolate whipped cream and a soft chocolate biscotti. Even this was paired with beer (Left Hand Milk Stout) and they were a great match.

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Our last dessert was an apple cobbler (with the apples slow cooked in, what else? beer).

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The whipped cream was made with bourbon bacon (and BOY was it bourbony). The bourbon is macerated with the bacon  and it certainly had strong flavors of both.  Very original.

This was also paired with beer: Almanac Golden Gate Gose (from Northern California).  My sips throughout the night proved to me that the Cicerone knows what he’s doing, even with the desserts.

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Our meal was fantastic from start to finish.  Every day, I miss being able to go around the corner to the old Albert Hall Tavern (where we first met Chef Bill) so I can have the food that Bill does oh so well… the food that makes you happy… reminds you of the food you grew up but with a modern, fun twist.  I wish I lived closer to Strong Place so I could be a regular, but if you happen to be one of the lucky ones in the area, you cannot miss with this menu at Strong Place and it’s worth the trip if you’re not local.  The beer pairings, attention to detail, and great, relaxed atmosphere just add to the draw.

They will be doing a pretty awesome sounding New Year’s Eve menu this year if you’re looking for a delicious way to spend the evening.

They also have live music and an outdoor patio (for when the weather is a bit nicer).

Highly recommended.

More on the journey of Chef Bill coming soon.

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