A cozy restaurant and bar tucked in the Shoppes at Brickyard in north Mt. Pleasant, Twisted Fish has shifted from familiar American-style bar fare to more adventurous seafood, steak, and tapas dishes. Executive Chef Brannon Florie (formerly of the Boathouse) came aboard last year and revamped the menu a bit, focusing more on Southern specialties and a few quirky fusions of Asian and American styles. As the name implies, seafood dominates much of the menu.
Twisted Fish regularly presents monthly wine dinners in its posh, candlelit side room. On Wed. Jan. 27, Florie and his team hooked up with reps from Lee Distributors to present their first-ever beer dinner — five-courses of wild game dishes paired with flavorful ales.
Denise Pierson from Lee introduced the ales with each course. Things kicked off with the intensely toasty Breckinridge Avalanche amber ale, which was paired with a beer-marinated local quail. It was a bold opener. Nicely roasted, stuffed with rice, and glazed with a mildly sweet cranberry barbecue sauce, the earthy flavor of the bird matched some of the caramel flavors of the beer.
Course two brought a tumbler of the strong and massively hoppy Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA and a huge bowl of gumbo made from Louisiana crawfish and marinated alligator tail (which was braised with the Dogfish Head ale). Florie topped it with delicious nuggets of fried alligator tail. Made from a dark brown roux, and served over a small bed of rice, the gumbo was more rich and meaty than the spicy traditional stuff with sausage and shrimp.
There was barely enough room on the table for the big, oval-shaped plates containing the next course — a triple-shot of wild boar paired with the sturdy and malty-sweet Chimay Grande Réserve (with the blue label). Chef Florie's smoked boar rib and German cabbage (homemade sauerkraut) combination was tangy and tender, if not a little messy. The savory braised boar belly over greens practically melted in our mouths with a molasses-like sweetness. The boar shoulder, presented like a traditional Southern-style pulled pork, looked simple and unfancy, but it packed a big punch of smoky flavor. The dark malt character of the hefty Chimay ale emulated the meaty, caramelized flavors of the meat on the plate.
A last-minute switch in beers paired the Red Brick Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter (from Atlanta) with the mightiest course of the evening. Putting a Southern twist on an Italian dish, Florie's spicy venison osso bucco and wild mushroom/red bean chili resembled the rich meatiness of the gumbo, with tender shank medallions falling right off the bone.
The dinner winded down with an unexpectedly light dessert — a dainty beer float served in a flute glass. Florie poured a few ounces of Breckinridge Vanilla Porter and over small spoonfuls of his homemade wild berry ice cream. It was fruity, tart, bubbly conclusion to a heavy-duty feast.