Welcome to ITBonappetit, our new series covering the best culinary experiences inside the beltline. I know nothing about cooking, but I know what I like. I also know that food bloggers are making a fortune, which is why I’m launching this new vertical. We’ll cover new restaurants, do some ITBrunch tours, hold super exclusive events, and much more. Feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured.
“Any asshole can put biscuits on a plate, but it takes a few special assholes to fuck them up and serve them with beer,” said Chris Allen as the dinner came to a close. On Monday night, Tasty Beverage Co. welcomed Chris, a 5 beltline chef and New Belgium Ranger, for the third annual Bojangles’ beer dinner. I attended the dinner, which was held at Jose and Sons as part of Raleigh Beer Week, which runs through Sunday, September 24th. Around 4 gallons of sausage gravy, 100 chicken supremes, 80 cinnamon twists, 40 country ham biscuits, and a lot of dirty rice, cajun pintos, and mac n’ cheese were used to create the six course dinner. Each course was paired with a beer.
Before we get to my exclusive interview with Chris, let’s take a look at the menu.
Boca Amuser – A Crunchy Taste of Sausage Gravy with Essence of Bojangles and a pork surprise. Paired with Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale. This was a nice way to kick things off. I could’ve eaten 20 of these, but it’s all about pacing.
Aperitivo – Cajun Bean Dip with Tortilla. Paired with Voodoo Ranger IPA. This was amazing.
1st Course – Duo of Pollo Street Tacos – Spicy Chicken Supreme with Pintos and Roasted Chicken with Dirty Rice. Paired with Dayblazer Easygoing Ale. While both tacos were delicious, I preferred the spicy chicken supreme with pintos.
2nd Course – Huevos Con Chorizo Enchilada – Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Mac n’ Cheese, topped with Spicy Green Chili and Sausage Gravy. Paired with Fat Tire Belgian White. Notice that the mac n’ cheese was inside the enchilada. I will never eat another non-mac n’ cheese enchilada again.
3rd Course – Carolina Cuban – Pressed Biscuit, Pulled Pork, Country Ham and American Cheese. Topped with pickle slice and pack of mustard on the side. Paired with Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. Obviously, I removed the pickle. The pressed biscuit was a bold choice, but it worked extremely well.
Desiertos – Cinnamon Twist with a Videri Spicy Chocolate Drizzle. Paired with Blackberry Oscar. I ate two of these.
The beers (Fat Tire and Blackberry Oscar not pictured).
The entire experience was also paired with Taylor Swift albums. Final rating: 5/5 beltlines.
After finishing the exquisite meal, I interviewed Chris Allen.
WNFIV: How did this start?
Allen: It all started with a couple of dudes and their love for beer and famous chicken n’ biscuits. Johnny Bellflower (of Tasty Beverage Co.), Alex Comisky, Jake Hogan and myself.
WNFIV: How did you come up with the idea?
Allen: We had joked about the idea for a while and one year we just finally did it. I like to think that it was inspired by the millions of Bojangles’ biscuits that we’ve all had as a hangover cure. It’s a well known fact that seasoned fries are a super food.
WNFIV: The meal doesn’t taste like I’m just eating Bojangles’. How did you come up with the menu?
Allen: The first year we basically served plain menu items with beer. People began to expect more from us as the event evolved. A good portion of my life was spent in restaurants, so there is a little bit of experience at play here. I try to come up with stuff that I’d want to try and Johnny has always trusted my judgement. When we found out that our friends at Jose and Sons were going to let us use their space, it was a no brainer to put a Latin spin on the menu.
WNFIV: What went in to the dinner?
Allen: In addition to the gravy, chicken, cinnamon twists, biscuits and sides, the real wild card has to be the Boneless Chicken Bites and BBQ. Most people around here don’t know that Bojangles’ serves those items. I actually had to drive to Mebane and pick them up with a cooler earlier in the day.
WNFIV: What makes this the best beer dinner that I’ve ever been to?
Allen: We just want people to have fun. So many beer dinners become stuffy and pretentious pretty quickly. That’s not a shot at anybody, but we focus on having fun and being whimsical. It’s beer, it’s something that brings people joy. Let the winos out there quaff their cabernet (out of a #ITBlessed glass, of course) with a fish fume. We will jam out some banging street tacos and a can of Dayblazer. There are millions of better food and beer pairings and I know that, but are they as much fun as ours? I don’t think so. Our guests want to come in and have a good time, we like to think we are delivering.
WNFIV: What are the plans for the future?
Allen: As long as people tell us we are doing a great job and they had fun, we will be back in the saddle next year. Although, it may have to be in a bigger space. We had 72 people join us this year and we turned away dozens more. I want to jam in as many people as possible.
WNFIV: Any last words before we go to Boxcar and play NBA Jam and Mario Kart for the next three hours?
Allen: Just a big thank you to everybody who has joined us over the years and made this what it is. And my sous-chefs Tom and Jared who finally got to live out their “Chopped” dreams. And of course to Sam and the crew at Videri for supplying the chocolate. Also, a friendly reminder that the Falcons blew a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl.