1126 Morro St
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
I first entered Granada, a tiny tucked-away bistro with my girlfriend. We had been looking for a romantic setting for our anniversary and this ended up being the perfect place. Granada was the perfect setting with its private atmosphere and the ambiance in the place was wonderful. Other reviews have called it “chic”, “bohemian” and “simple”; those are fine depictions of the place, but for me it was an escape to beer bliss.
My girlfriend was looking for a classy, private setting where we didn’t feel looked down upon for not dressing up; a place where we could take time with our meal and enjoy each other’s company.
I was looking for a classy place to enjoy one of my favorite treats, great beer. Immediately we had both found what we were looking for.
The people in the room were all around our age, lower-to-mid twenties. They seemed to be a much different breed than the normal college-town crew we’ve gotten used to downtown. Usually the local conversation surrounds who has to get the next pitcher of Bud Light, not J.D Salinger novels and which wine goes best with tonight’s dinner.
This is always been something that has confused me, (the complete focus on wine-pairings with meals that is). I don’t mind drinking wine. In fact I think it’s fantastic! There’s plenty of varieties and you can buy it by the jug if you feel like that kind of a night. But what I wish restaurants would do more often is offer suggestions of beer pairings with meals, not just which wines pair well. Where’s the room for the beer snobs?
I first noticed the array of Cabernets, Merlots, Saviogion Blancs, Pinots, Chardonnays and more lining the wall as we walked in. What caught my eye was the row of taps behind the bar. This is just what I’ve been looking for! The class and elegance of a wine bar, for the beer drinker.
What Granada lacks in beer quantity they make up for in quality. Four choices is all they have and all they need. Spaten’s Optimator, Stella Artois, Hoegaardenn, and Chimay (sorry frat boys, no Natty) all call to me as I sat enjoying the company of my date in the dimly lit restaurant.
Once again, the restaurant’s elegance focuses on integrating the wines into the meals and it seemed like beer took a back seat. Every meal on the menu comes with two or three suggested wine pairings, designed to combine the flavors in a way designed to make even the cheapest of wines taste like it was brought over from Europe on its own plane. Well that’s just fine and dandy, I’ll take a Hoegaarden.
My date orders Spaten’s Optimator, a dark, bottom-fermented, doppel-bock. The term “bottom-fermented” refers to beers fermented at lower temperatures that typically take longer to ferment than “top-fermented beers”. This leaves you with a cleaner, dryer beer (not to mention it usually means a higher alcohol content. And that’s exactly what she got. The Optimator’s malty, slightly smokey flavor resembled licorice at first taste (and glance) and was the perfect compliment to her Caprese panini. A couple of those at around eight percent and we were walking home.
My Hoegaarden, an unfiltered, Belgian-styled wheat beer was sweet and fruity, a perfect pairing with my mushroom panini and couscous. I taste hints of citrus as well as…bubble gum? Well I’m sure I’m not the only one to taste it, right? Now it wasn’t the first time I had enjoyed a Hoegaarden. In fact, you can buy the stuff by the twelve pack if you look for it at the right grocery store. But this was the first time I’ve had it on tap and at only $4 a glass, I had no choice but to order a second.
Our evening continued with terrific conversation and although the furthest table away is within whispering distance, I feel a sense of privacy as I enjoy my meal and more importantly, my beer.
Now, this is not the thing people like us are able to do on a regular basis. Our meal came to about $50 when everything was said and done, (we may have ordered dessert and another drink apiece). But for a romantic evening I couldn’t have asked for much more. The service was kind and attentive, the perfect setting for a date or evening out with a friend. To top it all off, subtleties like the storybook menus and the original decor made our experience that much better.
“Chic”? Yes. “Bohemian”? I guess so. What I’m sure of is that it was a terrific experience and Granada is just the kind of place that will keep me coming back for more. All they need is someone like me to add some beer pairings to the menu so the beer connoisseur feels as important as the wine snobs.
Overall Experience 4/5 Price 4/5 Beer Selections 5/5 Beer Variety 3/5