ALEX COGGIN ’16
A few weeks back, I picked up a six-pack of City Steam Brewery’s IPA from the package store. Until I read the bottle, I didn’t realize that it was not only brewed in Connecticut, but also City Steam Brewery Café was located right in downtown Hartford.
City Steam, as one would imagine, has a great selection of beer. They have about 10 of their own brews on tap and many other selections by the bottle. The Naughty Nurse, City Steam’s flagship amber ale, boasts a great combination of mild hoppy bitterness and rich caramel notes. Their proprietary beer selection covers the entire spectrum: from a dark oatmeal stout to light lager, they have every style covered. They even have a house- brewed hard root beer.
The menu is best described as standard bar fare: burgers, nachos, pizzas, wings, tacos, and many different types of sandwiches. There are also salads and comfort food main dishes such as mac and cheese, fish and chips, and pot roast. The simplicity of the menu is appealing, and all of the options pair extremely well with the excellent beer selection.
We started with the nachos. They came piled high and served with sour cream, fresh jalapenos, and salsa. We added pulled pork as well, which was a good addition. The portion size was huge and was definitely enough to share between friends.
I ordered a bison burger topped with sautéed onions and asiago cheese. The burger came with the choice of fries or a side salad. I opted for the fries. The burger was cooked medium and was extremely moist – bison burgers often become dry when not cooked properly. The fries were crispy and hot. The burger and fry combination was the perfect simple pairing with a nice tall beer.
The atmosphere of City Steam is very unique. At the front of the restaurant, there are several large brewing tanks, giving the restaurant an industrial, factory feel. The rest of the restaurant is wood and carpeted with what I can only describe as an old-school billiards club vibe.
There is a large bar area to the left of the dining area. The bar area has many tables to dine at, however, you must be 21 or older to enter. The main dining area spreads across 2.5 floors and is an interesting maze of staircases and balconies. In the back of City Steam Brewery Café, there is a function room and a billiards room. There are TVs throughout the bar and dining area, which makes City Steam a good place to watch sports.
In the bar area you can opt for a beer tower and get your choice of beer served in a tower with a tap. This makes for a great sharing opportunity if you and your friends want to get economical with a bulk beer selection.
City Steam is located right next to the XL Center, near comedy clubs, and many other great venues for weekend activities. When I visited, there was a game at the XL Center with was a lively pre-game crowd, which definitely made for a lively atmosphere. Its proximity to theaters and music venues make City Steam an ideal weekend hangout.
Prices at City Steam are modest. Burgers and sandwiches are in the $10 to $15 range. Appetizers are $10 or less. Entrees run in the $15 to $20 range. Service was very good and our waiter was very attentive.
City Steam Brewery Café is a lively spot in downtown Hartford that is perfect for a pre – or – post game drink and meal. Their craft beers are delicious and pair perfectly with the simple bar fare.