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Saturday, June 23, 2012

F8 Brewpub: NWI's Newest Destination

Figure Eight Brewing
150 South Washington Street | Valparaiso, IN

For the past several months I'd been hearing about Figure Eight expanding. The taproom was often a stop after a hearty brunch at Pikk's Tavern. It was a small spot, with their mainstays and new brews pouring. Pretzel rods were sitting on the table as a small snack in case you needed it. We'd sit on stools and watch the traffic go by, both on the road and at the order window. I could see part of the brewing operations from my stool. It was a pure taproom. It was clean, as well lit as a small spot could be, and sometimes had that soothing aroma of brewing. The staff was personable. The rock climbing theme was subtly infused into the atmosphere. It was always super clean.

When I had the chance to visit the new brew pub, on it's first Friday open, I was pleased to find those good qualities brought over.

First Impressions
I walked up to the door, right off of the main square in Valparaiso, and could see the tables packed with patrons and beer. It looked sleek and modern.

I walked in and the place was abuzz with opening week excitement. I heard the booming sounds of people having a blast. It could benefit from some soft dampening surfaces, but that's an easy fix.

We were lucky to get a seat right away. It was the last seat available, and people had to wait. It would have been worth a wait...with a cold F8 brew in hand.

The decor was a mix of wood and stone. The vibrant burnt orange walls reflected the subtle rock climbing decor. The light fixtures were a sandy yellow. On the ceiling were hanging "rocks" with light fixtures in between. The bar was clean with the brightly lit refrigeration unit showcasing the wide selection of beers in growlers and bombers. The taps were right up front so you could see everything going on. Two registers on either side provided a convenient spot for beer-to-go pick up.

The big wide windows are what really made this spot a new favorite of mine. I don't have to feel guilty about wasting time in dark, borderline dive, pubs on the weekend. I can feel like I'm still enjoying the environment around me! It's amazing the affect of bright natural light on energy levels too.

The menu was solid. It had some of everything, while still fitting on a single page. I was expecting a very limited menu, but this had appetizers, main dishes, and even a choice of dessert. The prices were great, ranging from $4-$9.

I was totally impressed. This wasn't just a step up from the tap room, this was a giant leap. It was so well done. It was more than worth the time it took for them to work through the delays in opening.

The fine taproom staff was there supporting opening week with a ton of new faces. With a full house, I was not disappointed with the service. It gave me time to soak it all in. Part of the delay was a minor issue with the draft system, but it didn't get in the way of enjoy three fantastic brews. One of the owners was right out there pouring beer and visiting with the guests to ensure satisfaction. Even with minor delays the service was much better and even faster than some established pubs. I noticed that the server kept an eye on us when he wasn't asking if we needed anything else. The whole experience lasted 2 hours. That was with three drinks, a full dinner, and dessert.

The food was worth extending this post for. The beer, as always, was top notch. They had house-made root beer too! The menu included items infused with their brews and breads crafted with their spent grain. It had cheesy options, salad options, and a number of different sandwiches with chicken, pork, and beef. After getting lost in this page of options, Mr. K decided on the Ascender, a delectable pulled pork sandwich with Jumbo bourbon bbq sauce and crisp cole slaw. I went with the ridiculously rich Hueco, cavatappi pasta with a creamy cheese sauce. I went with a salad for my side.

The portion sizes were really good. I was able to save room for dessert, though I was pushing it quite a bit.

The pulled pork was so very tender. The cole slaw was so crisp and fresh, not a mayonnaise-soaked tragedy. The sauce was a little too sweet for my tastes.....until I bit into either a jalapeno or a spicy pickle. Whatever it was made the sandwich great.

The mac & cheese was decadently rich. Paired with the Devil's Drip Tripel, a sweetness of the cheese came out. I really could have used a little slice of bread to sop up the creamy cheese left at the bottom. Mr. K's chips had to do the job.

The salad was so green. It was a healthy portion of very fresh-tasting mixed greens. The dressing served on the side (thank you) was a thick herbed olive-oil based dressing. Little crumbles of parmesan cheese added to it's depth. 

Dessert was fantastic. With a $3 brownie, I had to splurge and get all of the extras. For just a little more, I got two scoops of Valpo Velvet vanilla ice cream, toasted pecans, and chocolate sauce! The brownie was crunchy and sticky at the same time. Paired with a Raven Tor and sips from Mr. K's Date Night, it was a perfect way to end the experience.

1 comment:

  1. Have to agree... a great experience!
    Delicious food ...exciting place ...
    A wonderful addition to downtown Valpo!