For a bar that offers more than 100 kinds of beer on tap, starting with nachos was a given. Nachos are a gateway dish, a staple for most brewski-serving establishments, and when this item isn’t up to snuff you must seriously ponder the bar’s dedication to…well…humanity.
We landed at the bustling Craft Beer Market on a late Wednesday afternoon. Every table in the house was packed with suits getting in a drink before the commute home. With the option of a 45-minute wait for the dining room or squeezing in at the free-for-all that was the bar, we chose the latter.
Perched on bar stools with a fantastic view of every tap in the house – not to mention the spacious interior of the place – the barkeep informed us that all Alberta beer was $5 a pint, and wings were half price. Sold. Ordered up a Trad and a Capital City Lager, with nachos ($18) and wings ($13).
The nachos get A+ for presentation. It’s one of those platters – on a Big Rock keg top – marched out of the kitchen and held high by servers then placed with a flourish amidst excited expletives from customers who’d already downed a pint or two.
Upon closer inspection, however, the nachos only disappointed: about three handfuls of triangular white corn chips topped with chopped green onion, four slices of fresh jalapeño and some oddly melted cheese, with sour cream and a house-made chunky salsa on the side. Naked nachos, man. And to boot, the cheese was a little weird. Industrial orange cheddar mixed with something else, either baked too long or a bit off. Now, having said that, we did eat them. (Beer makes everything better.)
The barkeep insisted that the wings on “Wing Wednesday” were decent, being a good size as opposed to many other places that saved the tiny wings for cheap wing night. The only trick being that the Craft specialty wings were not half price, just the regular ones, ie. Hot. The wings were decent, but stay tuned for a follow up when we bring our wing expert, Garski, to suss it out. So yes, we will return for more recon.
Craft’s take on food is “New North American Classic Cuisine” – which, according to the propaganda, means “an elevated and sophisticated twist on traditional comfort foods.” Once the drinks crowd had headed home, we saw much more food zooming out of the kitchen for those who’d come to eat. The portions were compact and colourful, using plenty of fresh ingredients. I just wish the nachos had been a little more substantial rather than being all about showmanship.
Overall, Craft is a fun place to drink and catch up with friends, and say, oh, plan a training program for a half marathon. The beer will make you commit.
Sidenote I: A big holla goes out to Craft for its downtown hot spot. The cavernous venue fills to the brim with happy drinkers AND in the nicer weather there is a rooftop patio!
Sidenote II: The servers were chatty, friendly and very efficient, with solid product knowledge. The beer taps rotate so that if this becomes your local, then you won’t get bored by the offerings.
Sidenote III: The barkeep finished his shift and sat down a few seats over for his dinner. He chose the Mac & Cheese.
Celebrity sighting: We suspect one of the bartenders was on Big Brother Canada.
CRAFT Beer Market
10013-101A Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5J 0R6