Last weekend, a few dozen diners at Song Phi Nong enjoyed four courses of off-the-menu Thai food thoughtfully paired with beers from Lazy Magnolia Brewery in Mississippi. During the dinner, Joel Ohmer of the Bayou Beer Society talked about the upcoming second annual Bayou Beer Fest, and Leith Adams updated the crowd on the progress of his Thibodaux brewery Mud Bug. Frank McGonagill, one of the co-owner’s of Which Craft? and husband to Song Phi Nong’s owner and chef Yupha, ended the restaurant and bar’s second beer dinner by saying it wasn’t long ago that people said events like these couldn’t happen in the area.
Whether or not that was ever the popular opinion, it’s clear now that the food passion revival has reached South Louisiana with people gathering to enjoy meticulously planned evenings like this. Song Phi Nong and Which Craft?’s last beer dinner with Nola Brewing was great, but the partnership with Lazy Magnolia managed to improve in every area nonetheless.
The dinner began with a glass of Indian Summer, an American-style wheat ale with orange peel and coriander, while we waited for the first course to arrive. It served as a great start to the dinner and proved to be my favorite of the night. We were told to be mindful of the beer as we tasted it, concentrating on the flavors and aromas and deciding whether or not we liked it only once we experienced it completely. I found it slightly sweet and, while trying to follow directions as closely as possible, was reminded ever so faintly of orange soda. I’m planning of picking up some more as soon as possible.
The first course was an unassuming pickled cucumber and carrot salad that stole the show. Diced avocado and a boiled shrimp completed the sweet, vinegary salad. A small bowl of the most incredible corn fritters I’ve ever eaten accompanied the dish. The fritters were sweet, moist and studded with whole kernels. I wish these were on the restaurant’s regular menu and served by the basketful while waiting for food to arrive. Song of the South perfectly complemented the vinegar notes of the salad with it’s sweet and sour flavors.
Mussels and clams in a butter, garlic, basil sauce cooked and paired with Lazy Saison made up the second course. Once we opened the shells, with a helpful demonstration from Frank, we spooned the contents onto slices of fresh bread, perfectly flaky on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Leftover bread was ideal for soaking up the remaining broth. Lazy Saison was the most interesting beer of the night, served in it’s own unique glass we got to take home. It was a very aromatic beer, accentuated by the glass, and had a floral flavor to it. It wasn’t my favorite but worked well with the dish.
Before the dinner, I had been most looking forward to the third course of Korean short ribs and grits cooked with Jefferson Sweet Potato Stout. The short ribs were served debris style in the rich gravy beside the creamy grits. Crunchy, leafy Chinese broccoli accented each bite. By this point, I was nearing the wall one often hits at the tail end of multi-course dinners, but Frank convinced me to join what was quickly becoming the common practice across the dining room of getting more bread from the last course and sopping up the gravy. It was sinfully delicious and once again made me wish for this to be part of the main menu. Imagine a poboy served on that incredible bread, a thin layer of those creamy grits replacing the mayo, leaves of Chinese broccoli for the lettuce, and messy mounds of short rib. Surely, it would give Harry’s roast beef a run for it’s money. Of course, Lazy Magnolia’s flagship Southern Pecan was perfect with the short ribs: sweet, nutty, chocolatey, caramely goodness!
Dessert was the Song Phi Nong staple of mango with sweet coconut rice paired with Southern Hops’pitality IPA. Which Craft? co-owner Donny Terrebonne explained the rationale behind what would have been an otherwise strange-sounding pairing. After each bite of sweet mango and coconut, a taste of the hoppy IPA would refresh your palate, keeping each bite and sip fresh. As a fan of desserts that don’t overwhelm you with sweetness, I really appreciated this pairing.
The bar, restaurant, and brewery worked together extremely well to created an incredible local food and drink experience that you can’t easily find elsewhere. The food and beers are great on their own, but to have each dish and brew complement one another so well and introduced by the people who worked so hard to make it special for us was a real treat.
I love that we’re able to eat and drink this well right here where we live. If you’re not already enjoying what our area has to offer to the fullest, keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities like this one. Nothing beats discovering incredible new experiences at home.
Song Phi Nong | 279 Enterprise Dr #A, Houma | (985) 872-9010