Last June, I was at a sports bar watching the NBA finals and was faced with a decision – do I get the $10 glass of wine or a $5 beer? Normally, it would’ve been an easy decision. I’ve tried beer and hated it, so wine or a cocktail were my standard drinks. But, knowing that I would be at this bar for a while and not wanting to spend a lot of money, I forced myself to drink Blue Moon. A few hours and two pints later, I grew to love beer and have been slowly growing a sexy little beer gut ever since.
So, when I saw “Alsatian Beer Soup” on New York‘s list, I thought someone had heard my prayers. Two loves combined into one – could it really be? Even so, for $16 I could also get four Starbucks tea lattes, two full lunches during the week, or four actual beers at happy hour. Could I sacrifice some of my vices to try some beer soup? Not really, which is why C and I went to The Bar Room a couple days ago and shared.
Disappointment and confusion started things off. When we sat down at the bar and looked at the menu, we saw an “Alsatian Country Soup with Benton Ham and Rock Shrimp” for $16. Was it the same thing? The only things similar to New York‘s blurb were “Alsatian,” “Benton Ham,” and “Soup,” but why would they call the soup something different? Where was the beer? I WANTED BEER!!
When the soup was placed in front of me, it at least looked just like the magazine described. If I didn’t know where I was, I would’ve thought they brought out a latte and biscuits. A ceramic bowl was topped off with a layer of foam and then decorated with what appeared to be cinnamon, but was actually crushed spiced bread. A fresh bakery scent caught my attention, and C and I discovered it was coming from the warm mini slices of actual spice bread that were delicately placed inside a napkin.
Looks can be deceiving, and the precise presentation had a sophistication that set high expectations for the flavor. But I’m happy to inform you that, beer or no beer, this could be my favorite soup yet. Lucky #7. Why must I always have such expensive taste?!
The white foam was masking a coffee-colored broth that further hid a bountiful amount of colorful treasures. Chunks of dark pink ham, orange-white shrimp and green celery filled
each spoonful. One ingredient that New York had highlighted, the Nantucket Bay scallops, were missing. Perhaps they were finely chopped to the point of being unnoticeable. I wasn’t about to go fishing to find them, though. Since the menu featured “rock shrimp,” maybe the scallops were replaced. Seasonal thing? No clue. I may be not be refined enough to understand. I do know that I was enjoying something special, and that is all I can really say. I can’t even guess at how they created the broth.
Back to the mysterious beer that New York also highlighted…again, where was it? I didn’t think to ask the bartender if beer was indeed used, but I’ll make sure to find out whenever I go back. Maybe the chef changed the name after the magazine went to print, thinking it was misleading to call it beer soup, if it was only a minor component. Or he thought it sounded too frat-like for the more civilized ambience. Whatever happened, this is one case where the deception didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth. If I could afford eating this every week, I would. But, until we make more money or The Bar Room triples the portion, C and I won’t be able to make this one of our go-to options for lunch. Sad times.
So I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but one thing is for sure: the next time I have it, I’ll probably have it with a side of beer.
The Bar Room at The Modern
9 W. 53rd Street (btwn 5th and 6th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!