What a grand addition to Easton’s dining options.
Two Rivers Brewing Co., which opened just before Christmas in the former home of Mount Vernon Ale House, looms large in the urban landscape, its beautiful Victorian turret bringing a renewed romantic and regal note to the city’s gritty reality.
Owners Judy and Brad Nelson and Kathy and Troy Reynard, who bought the gutted building at sheriff’s auction about a year and a half ago, have salvaged a bit of Easton’s past and polished it for a new century. The original bar and impressive pressed tin ceiling remain, mixed with lots of TLC and fresh paint that have created a trendy tone, yet vintage, too, in shades of brown — dark chocolate walls, milk chocolate ceiling and bittersweet chocolate trim.
Word travels fast about such places. The night I visited, Two Rivers was packed, and the crowded, saloon-like dining room’s noise level was loud, raucous and infectious.
Dubbed “farm-to-table gourmet comfort food,” the fare is a nice mix of the familiar tweaked with ingredients or accompaniments that rev the flavor quotient into overdrive. Consider, for example, duck fat fries: Tallman Farm potatoes cooked in rendered duck fat, touched with rosemary and Pecorino Romano, and served with Dijon aioli. Enough said.
Two Rivers wedge salad ($9.50) was a fine example of tradition with a twist. We shared this large triangle of crisp, iceberg lettuce served with grilled bread, roasted tomato and sweet corn relish, and bacon. Green Goddess dressing, freshly made, was abundant with fresh herbs. Yum.
What I remember most about Two Rivers mussels and frites ($14) was the piquant flavor note supplied by mixed olives. Along with those olives infusing the wheat beer broth, there were Primordia Farms wild mushrooms, Breakaway Farms bacon, Reeder Farms leeks and red peppers adding their essence. Lip smacking.
Grilled chicken breast and Reeder Farms butternut squash ($14) was a feast. The Free Bird Farm marinated poultry, topped with a fat slice of tender squash, was served over sweet potato, apple and bacon hash. Goat cheese added tangy richness and apple cider jus contributed depth. Awesome.
And then there were apple cider doughnuts ($6), with fresh caramel sauce no less. These deep-fried pillows of dough were dark with cider flavor and a thick crunchy crust that added more taste, and texture, too. The dipping sauce was just icing on the cake (not really, of course). Sweet.
Two Rivers menu will expand when the upper floors’ renovation is complete, which is expected soon. It now offers a bar and local craft beers. When the brewery is up and running in a few months, there will be 10 of its own beers on tap. Thank heaven for so many reasons to return.
Dinner for two, with tax and tip but no alcoholic beverages, totaled $61.
Two Rivers Brewing Co.
542 Northampton St., Easton
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday. Kitchen closes at 10 p.m. daily.
Prices: Appetizers: $6.50-$11; entrees: $11-$14
Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
Bar: Full-service bar.
Accessibility: Premises and restrooms wheelchair accessible.
Location: Downtown Easton at Northampton and Sixth streets. Metered parking on Northampton Street 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; no charge Sundays and selected holidays. Non-metered parking on Sixth Street.