Uncle St Kilda, Pho Beer & Cavalier Brewing


Uncle in St Kilda was the perfect location for an adventurous food and beer matching with Cavalier Brewing for Good Beer Week. As an invited guest I found this to be an outstanding event that took me to places I'd never been before. Pho beer? This was the sort of event that you can invent and try new tastes on the punters.


Uncle itself is an attractive looking restaurant with interesting dining spaces including tables along this bamboo wall... It's located in an electic part of St Kilda on Carlisle St with a number of drinking holes around it in what I would term the "beer belt". Since its opening Uncle has attracted widespread acclaim for its modern twist on Vietnamese cuisine.


In retrospect I have to say this night was unbelievable value for the punters. For $55 you received a degustation and matching beers. Cavalie Brewing had gone out of its way to not just slap some beers together to match the food, but actually brewed some beers specifically for the evening. Sensational.

We started with the Uncle Brew... Also noted was the generous amount of beer served.


The opening dish was this Betel leaf with yellow fin tuna tartare, shaved foie gras... Suffice to say it was explained to beer lovers that you also eat the actual betel leaf. Made me think about stereotypes of beer lovers - it's not the old school "yobbo" anymore but new age drinkers that discover the nuances of beer and enjoy food matching, and appreciate eating betel leaf and some tartare and foie gras...


Beer cocktail? We were served up a Beer cocktail, one I will never forget.  Named "See you in Derrimut"was a strong entry into the cocktail world with exotics such as lemongrass, pink grapefruit, chilli and mint, palm sugar, with beer and a drop of tequila. There was kick in this cocktail (hence the name) and it was delicious, with excellent balance. I enjoyed the experience.

Having been to Derrimut I'm not sure how this cocktail would go there, but Derrimut is also evolving and pushing boundaries these days...


The event was even more enhanced by engagement with the staff of Uncle and the crew from Cavalier.


With Uncle's famous chicken wings being served, we enjoyed this matching Pho beer infused with traditional aromats. I'm assuming some people might bulk at a "pho" beer, but this was the night to be adventurous. This was a cracker and I'm wondering if we will see it again on a menu. Cavalier told us they spent days perfecting this with getting the balance right between lemon v pho extract, and the other ingredients. With al the botanics in these beers I was wondering if I was drinking gin... 

The Pho beer was simply wonderful. There was a slight saltiness and earthiness of the pho, with sweet elements to bring balance. It was interesting Uncle didn't serve the Pho beer with an actual pho dish - it would have been overkill. The match with the chicken wings was perfect. These chicken wings were crispy on the outside and juicy inside, with spices providing some welcomed kick, served with chilli, lime and Maggi sauce bottle each.  One of the best chicken wing exponents in Melbourne...


We heard regularly from Cavalier Brewing through the night. Kudos for their mighty preparation for this event, which took me further on the journey of craft beer and food matching.


Uncle is also famous for its pho, a non oily edition. We were given a entree sized bowl of quality pho, with tender braised brisket, pressed cheek, shaved rare beef and noodles and a large amount of leaves and sprouts to add to our liking... Of course the key with pho is the broth, and this was exceptional and full bodied.


We were served a matching beer with the pho, which was the aromatic Uncle Brew...


So far I was a happy man, with ample food and beverage, but more importantly the matching was superb and well thought out...


Next came our main dish of the night the Sticky Pork ribs, a highlight on any menu, matched with Cavalier Pale. This was a generous portion with the ribs marinated in delicious Cavalier beer braise, and plums. These ribs were tender and full of flavour and melted off the bone. The accompaniments on the plate were brilliant with spicy apple and asian greens.

Accompanying bowl of rice and a cracking Asian green salad, as well as sweet potato fries, completed a top notch dish.

It was then I realised this event was amazing for the $55 price.


Imperial stout dessert? Uncle and Cavalier then completed the coup de grat with a spectacular dessertof Imperial stout with tapioca, condensed milk icecream, goji berries and espresso lemon meringue. This was also a revelation. Stout is often used in cooking, but it was brilliant to experience tapioca cooked in stout to get the rich colouring then to offset that with sweetness of condensed milk icecream, berries and espresso lemon meringue.

There was also a sense of theatre with staff pouring the stout into the glass to make a spider. An Imperial stout spider! 

We were also given a glass of the Imperial stout to enjoy with the dessert, to be in stout overdrive...

What a night! This was what Good Beer Week is all about! I would like to return to Uncle for its excellent cuisine and staff and a modern fit out, and to sample more of Cavalier Brewing beer offerings...


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