Gastropubs thriving in Sierra Foothills

THE BOOMING CRAFT BEER SCENE is contributing to a growing culinary trend called gastropubs. These eateries offer gastronomy, or the art of eating good food, in a bar or pub setting. Besides offering exceptional craft beer, gastropubs often emphasize the use of fresh, local ingredients in their cuisines.

Gastropubs originated in Britain in 1990 when two experienced chefs decided to serve upscale cuisine in a neighborhood pub, because the rents and premiums of restaurants were too expensive for them. A pub known as The Eagle is credited with coining the term “gastropub” to describe the innovative concept.

The first gastropub to open in the United States was the Spotted Pig in New York’s West Village in 2004. Its British-born chef, April Bloomfield, worked at the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley. From there, the trend took off in large U.S. cities, such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The foothills and Truckee-Tahoe have their own gastropubs. Here are some examples:

In the heart of historic Nevada City in a handsome brick building, Matteo’s Public is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors.

Owner Matt Margulies is a self-professed “beer geek” and was a pioneer in offering local craft brews such as ol’ Republic of Nevada City and Auburn Alehouse. “People always ask ‘What’s local?’” says Matt.

Matteo’s also sells Chimay, the highly acclaimed Belgian Trappist beer, on tap. Matteo’s specializes in beer “flights,” including some hard-to-find ales.

Matteo’s food is top notch, featur- ing local, organic ingredients from local farms whenever possible, sustainably raised beef, wild-caught fish and Mary’s organic, non-GMO chicken. It also offers non-GMO tortillas.

Located across the street from ol’ Republic Brewery in Nevada City, Jernigan’s has 13 beers on tap and Sprecher’s root beer. New beers are offered each week. “We seek out the best, eclectic brews,” says owner Sean Cox.

The menu includes fresh salads and imaginative burgers made with Niman Ranch ground beef, such as a Beer Glazed burger, grilled and topped with a beer glaze, carmelized onions and portabella mushrooms with chili aioli. Soups and stews are offered in the fall.

On October 18, Jernigan’s will hold a beermaker harvest dinner, featuring a seasonal menu paired with Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co.’s craft beers. The menu includes salad, scallops, porchetta and a hazel-nut carrot cake for dessert.

Housed in an historic building in Old Town Auburn, Auburn Alehouse is a brewery and a bistro. Its award-winning craft beer is served in-house but also at gastropubs throughout the region, including Matteo’s.

The Auburn Alehouse’s menu features Sashimi-grade Ahi Tuna raw or seared for a starter, homemade chili, jambalaya, fish & chips, street tacos, fresh fish, sandwiches and burgers and a flat-iron steak, among other items. Desserts include house-made cheesecake.

Owner-brewmaster Brian Ford and his wife, Lisa, are gracious hosts and have been instrumental in growing the local beer scene.

The new brewery and restaurant in historic Nevada City, featured in our last issue, serves wood-fired pizza, craft beer brewed in a 7-barrel brewhouse, as well as soups, salads and sandwiches made with fresh, local ingredients. Visit our website at for a feature article on Three Forks.

Stout Ice Cream
Treats of Nevada City has collaborated with Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. to create a Stout Ice Cream. We liked the flavor: The malt flavor of the stout is a pleasing contrast to the rich ice cream.

“We love to work with local businesses to develop products of mutual benefit,” says Treats. “The results of these collaborations exemplify the ‘Buy Local’ concept and puts forth uniquely local products. To date we have collaborated with several farmers, an indigenous plant specialist, a coffee roaster, and now a local brewery.” Raise a glass, or a scoop!

(Photo: John Mackey)

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