Beer & Food

Haven Puts On a Wonder-Full Dinner

An 8th Wonder beer dinner at Haven brings chefs and suds together.

By Katharine Shilcutt June 27, 2013

Ryan Soroka, left, and Matt Marcus run the Eatsie Boys Cafe in addition to 8th Wonder Brewery.

One of the only frustrating things about Eatsie Boys Cafe is the fact that it doesn't serve alcohol. Which leads to the other frustrating thing about Eatsie Boys Cafe: It's technically not allowed to serve alcohol, since the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission has decreed that anyone who owns a brewery can't sell alcoholic beverages in any other business they own.

Haven Restaurant’s 8th Wonder Brewery Beer Dinner
2502 Algerian Way
Wednesday, July 24
6:30 p.m.
$88 per person (tax and tip included)

This is particularly frustrating in the case of the Eatsie Boys crew—Matt Marcus, Ryan Soroka, and Alex Vassilakidis—which also happens to own and operate 8th Wonder Brewery, one of Houston's newest craft breweries and purveyor of some very fine ales which would pair perfectly with the cafe's casual fare.

The passage of recent beer legislature at the state level has made it easier for 8th Wonder to sell its beer at the brewery, something that co-founder Marcus called a "huge step" for breweries across Texas, though he admits that it's "probably going to take another year or two before we can sell our beer at the cafe."

In the meantime, however, there's another way you can try the Eatsie Boys's food and beer in one place: a collaborative beer dinner at Haven, where Marcus—the chef at Eatsie Boys Cafe—will be teaming up with Haven chef Randy Evans and chef de cuisine Jean-Philippe Gaston, who runs the attached raw bar, Cove. The six-course dinner will take place on Wednesday, July 24, starting at 6:30 p.m. The $88 cost per person naturally includes beer.

"It's our first big collaboration with another restaurant," says Marcus, who's excited to work with his old mentor, Evans, once again. "I worked with him at Brennan's," recalls Marcus. "It was one of my first jobs back in '97, when Chris [Shepherd] and Randy were the sous chefs there." Shepherd went on to open Underbelly, Evans to open haven, and Marcus to work in Michelin-starred kitchens such as Cyrus in California before returning to Houston. Here, he started up the Eatsie Boys food truck along with Soroka and Vassilakidis, which quickly took off and became one of the vanguards of the Houston food truck movement.

The 8th Wonder Brewery in East Downtown offers tours and tastings every Friday and Saturday.

These days, the trio are hard at work running both the cafe and the brewery along with head brewer Aaron Corsi. Although the powder blue food truck itself is no longer in standard service, it's kept busy with catering gigs, and the Boys are also constantly at work on their line of ultra-creative ice cream flavors, dubbed Frozen Awesome. Two weeks ago, Marcus and Evans hatched the idea to keep them even busier with a beer dinner that would showcase the food at Haven, Cove, and Eatsie Boys as well as a few new beers that 8th Wonder has been working on.

Marcus is in charge of the third and sixth courses in the meal, with Evans and Gaston each handling two themselves. "I wanted to do the dessert," says Marcus, so that he could showcase their most popular Frozen Awesome flavor: Shipley's glazed donut, made with real Shipley's donuts. "I always wanted to pair that with the coffee porter."

That coffee porter is a one-off brew called Rocketfuel Vietnamese Coffee Porter, based on the Vietnamese iced coffee that's popular throughout Houston as a cold, sweet treat. "We're trying to make it a regular beer," promises Marcus.

The Eatsie Boys hope to one day sell their own beer in their own cafe.

Another one-off brewed specially for the dinner is a yuzu-accented version of 8th Wonder's Intellectuale Witty Blonde, which will be paired with Gaston's first course: shrimp and oyster tartare with ginger yuzu and beer foam. The citrus-and-yeast-heavy cross between a Witbier and a Belgian golden "was just a really natural pairing to do" with Gaston's signature raw seafood preparations, says Marcus.

A Citra dry-hopped version of 8th Wonder's Hopston—an American IPA made even hoppier by the addition of extra hops (Citra hops in this case) after the beer's wort has cooled—should pair equally well with the fifth course, Evans's hoja santa-laced tamales with beef from local rancher 44 Farms, red mole, cotija chesese, and crema.

Although it's Marcus's first real collaboration, he hopes to do more beer dinners in the future while Texas works towards allowing his two businesses to interact with each other in a more organic way. "I really hope that this is just the beginning," he says. "We're restaurant people, and we want to work with as many restaurant people as possible."

Reservations for the dinner are required, and can be made by calling 713-581-6101.


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