Desperate Times Call for Free Beer
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Desperate Times Call for Free Beer

Feel like everyone is getting a bailout except you? Brian Morin, chef and owner of beerbistro, is doing his part to change that with his “beerbistro bailout.” For two weeks now, Chef Morin and his staff have been randomly selecting at least one table per day to be “bailed out” at his popular restaurant and bar at Yonge and King. When bill time comes, instead of a cheque the server brings a bright pink piggy bank topped with a lit sparkler and stuffed with cards saying that dinner and drinks are on the house.

Beer tasters: any three draught beers for $6.

To those who haven’t been to beerbistro, the bailout may seem like a Winterlicious-type scheme to get more customers in the door, but one evening there will easily change your mind. When we were there on Thursday night, the bar was standing-room-only by 5 p.m. and the dining room was at capacity by 6. So why would beerbistro run such a promotion? Chef Morin says, “It’s our turn to look after our customers and the neighbourhood and give back.”
The restaurant is located at the eastern edge of the Financial District and many of its long-time regulars are facing real economic hardship. A party hosted in beerbistro’s private room last week was a final celebration for a group of thirty-five co-workers, twenty-five of whom would be losing their jobs within the month. What better way to look back over past times and prepare for the future than over a choice of one hundred and thirty ales and lagers and some fantastic food?

Corn dogs appetizer: Filled with duck leg confit and served with housemade pineapple mustard and cherry beer ketchup.

And the food really is fantastic. In mid-February, Chef Morin unveiled a new, affordable winter menu with comfort in mind. As usual, everything on the menu contains some beer as an ingredient, but now nothing costs more than twenty-five dollars, which is remarkable considering the quality and care of preparation. beerbistro doesn’t brag enough that everything on the menu, with the small exception of corn and flour tortillas, is made from scratch in their very own kitchen. They cure and smoke their own Berkshire bacon, bake their own sourdough bread from beer-based starter, make their own ketchup and mayonnaise, and fashion their own brand of rich ice cream called Beer Scream.
On Thursday, we had the corn dogs, Pogo-like appetizers filled with decadent duck confit alongside housemade pineapple mustard and cherry beer ketchup. They are incredibly crisp and light on the outside with a filling that is savoury and addictive. If only these were served at the CNE.
The smoked chicken pizza was also “die happy” food. The crust, just like everything else, is made from scratch and is a satisfying medium thickness. The chicken, smoked in-house, contrasts with the sweet corn, salty cheese, and fragrant basil.

Smoked chicken beer-bread pizza topped with roasted pear tomatoes, sweet corn, gouda, basil, and parmesan cream.

The “beerbistro bailout” is on an indefinite run, but it could end at any moment—so now is the time to go. You could be the lucky ones. Even if you don’t get bailed out, with this food you win anyway.
All photos by Marcelo Ithurralde.