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Sonoma County Brewpub Guide

The Southwest Corner Brewpub
529 1st St. W., Sonoma
938-2122

Hours: Daily, from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., but subject to change. Saturday-Sunday brunch starts at 9:30 a.m.
Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
Parking: In the side parking lot or on the street

Beer
FORMERLY the Feed Store Cafe and Bakery, this fledgling brewpub opened on Memorial Day and is undergoing changes in kitchen staff, menu, and schedule. The beers had only just begun fermentation--which takes 16 days--the week before we visited. Too early to try all their planned selections, we tried two of the brewpub's own samples on tap (and several selections from other breweries) the night we dined. We tried their Beereaucracy (after a tough day at work, who could resist that name?), an amber-colored India Pale Ale that had a citrus and hops aroma, a clean taste, and a long finish with a hint of bitters. Next we tried At Last Ale--a pale ale blend of three malted barleys and two kinds of hops. It was slightly deeper in hue, with a harmonious balance and good finish that doused the spiciness on our dinner plates.

By Halloween, Southwest Corner will have a grand reopening to showcase the new brews. Anchoring the menu will be four core beers, all named after weather phenomena: Balmy Blond (a pale golden ale), Red Sun Ale (a red ale), Hail Ale (a pale ale), and Stormy Night Stout. Expect appearances from one rotating beer and one seasonal beer (first up--Harvest Ale, a brown stout). Pints are $3.50; 12-oz. glasses, $2.75; the four-beer sampler, $3.50, and a pitcher costs $10. There are some wines available.

Brewmaster: Jim Muck.

Take-out/Keg Availability: 5-gallon kegs are $40; full-size kegs, $90.

Food
SOUTHWEST CORNER offers a selection of Southwest specialties like Santa Fe pizza and quesadillas. Other choices include fried or barbecued oysters, tapas, sandwiches, burgers, soups, and salads. The garlic fries ($3.95)--slender, hand-cut, and heaped into a white china soup bowl--have an enticing aroma and a wickedly irresistible lingering garlic bite. The cayenne-dusted onion rings ($3.95) also arrived cradled in a white soup bowl. Thin as boot laces and fairly tasty, they nevertheless lacked the expected zing of pepper and were too greasy.

The portobello relleño ($8.95) consisted of a thick, meaty portobello mushroom covered with layers of cheese; green, red, and orange bell pepper slices; and a rich brown ancho chili sauce with a slight sweetness. Topped with a crisscross design of sour cream and served with salsa, this was flavorful, but lacked black beans and a starchy element for balance. Tortillas or rice to sop up the sauce would have made a satisfying addition. The smoked chicken quesadilla ($6.95) contained melted cheese, small chunks of chicken, and red and green bell pepper slices. The red-hot salsa accompanying it contained hints of fresh pineapple, red onions, and cilantro, but it remained essentially a tearjerker, requiring copious chugs of suds to quell the flames.

No desserts were offered the night we dined (remember, the kitchen was still undergoing changes), but we were assured regular selections will include flourless chocolate cake, bread pudding, white chocolate cheesecake, and fresh cantaloupe sorbet (which our seared mouths lusted after in vain)--all house-made.

Service
FRIENDLY and eager to please.

Ambiance
THE OPEN, UNADORNED, and bare-floored dining area is decorated with a few Southwest artifacts, and several sacks of malt. A beamed ceiling and large open kitchen add to the sense of spaciousness.

Din: Recorded music is low in the dining area and louder in the small bar; on our Tuesday night visit, the place was quiet.

Restrooms: Well-lighted, clean, and no frills, accessed from outside the restaurant.

Non-drinkers: An old-fashioned Corner Root Beer, brewed on the premises, has a good strong flavor. Exciting plans to create their own cream soda! Non-drinkers may find the rustic outdoor patio has a warmer ambiance than the casual bar.

Fizz
EVENTS such as live jazz, blues, Cajun, ska, or reggae music on weekends; Monday Night Football with special menu themes. Outdoor patio with lighted fountain, canvas umbrellas, and strands of lights in the greenery.

Flat
INDOOR AMBIANCE a bit too cold and food a bit too hot.
--P.H.

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From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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