We’ve wrapped up the Brewery Passport and saved a great one for last. We started the evening at Noble Beast, which I’ll give its own post soon. But Hansa Brewery in Ohio City stole the show that evening so I need to tell you about it.
We walked in from the bitter cold and snow to a warm open space, with a decent sized bar on the left and a large wooden chandelier hanging over it. It smacked of Old World charm, which was pleasant after the more industrial style of Noble Beast.
After a few seconds, we were greeted by a stern looking older man with a distinguished eastern European accent who asked if anyone had helped us yet. When we replied that they hadn’t, he responded jovially, “Of course they haven’t, the service is terrible here. Follow me!”
He then lead us into a dining area with floor to ceiling windows looking out on their currently snow-covered patio and a slightly fancier dining set up than the bar would indicate; it was almost kind of fancy. A very pleasant lady took our orders and we settled in for what would turn out to be a fantastic meal.
I had a honey blonde ale that, for once, actually tasted like honey, sweet, crisp and smooth. I wouldn’t say it stood out as an amazing beer, but it was satisfying nonetheless. We got an order of potato pancakes that tasted just like a potato pancake should taste– which unfortunately is tough to describe for me. Those disappeared pretty quickly. Then they told us the special– whole brancin (bronzini or sea bass, for a more familiar name), baked and brought to the table for filleting.
We jumped, and my oh my, was that a sweet fall.
They brought out two plates with fried potatoes and a lightly sauteed spinach dressed with what tasted like only lemon juice, and then they brought out the fish. I smelled it almost before I saw it– garlic, salt, pepper, and the smell of something that has been baked to perfection. The man who had greeted us, who I’m assuming was the owner Boris, pulled out a spoon and a fork and pulled the fish apart, two portions from each side. The skin crunched and the meat melted away from the skeleton. I couldn’t wait to dig in.
Once the fish was divided, he left and we took a bite of the most delicious fish I have ever had. Mind you, we had already eaten at Noble Beast, so to tell you that this fish was delicious is not driven by starvation. I was close to full by the time we sat down, and still I scarfed the brancin down with sheer delight, it was that good.
Once our plates were clean (mine made so by boxing up the spinach and potatoes for lunch), Boris wandered back over to ask how the meal was, and we let loose with praise for the dish. He told us all about their food philosophy (“peasant food” he called it; it was fit for kings!), and stated that most Americans don’t know how to eat fish (unfortunately, I can’t disagree), which is why they settled on the brancin because the bones are large and easily removable. The bones did nothing to lessen our enjoyment of the dish– in fact, they may have slowed us down and allowed us to savor it more.
We most definitely will be heading back to this gem, and I think I’ll even swing next door to the Hansa Import House to pick up some European treats– meats and cheeses, authentic German bier, and any other goodies I might find. You really can’t beat authentic fresh food, and Hansa serves it up right.
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