Best restaurants for beer pairings

These eateries are as serious about suds as they are about food.

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  • Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

    elevenmadisonpark6

    Eleven Madison Park

  • Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

    gramercytavern01

    Gramercy Tavern

  • Photograph: courtesy Resto

    resto03

    Resto

  • Photograph: courtesy Strong Place

    strongplace01

    Strong Place

  • Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

    vandaag1

    Vandaag

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

elevenmadisonpark6

Eleven Madison Park


Eleven Madison Park
While suds take a backseat to wine at most haute dining temples, the hops program at Danny Meyer's four-star gem is killer: There's a dedicated beer sommelier, nerdworthy Spiegelau glassware, cellar-aged bottles and an encyclopedic menu of 27 styles. Offerings hew to old-school European varieties (such as German bocks and Czech pilsners), which dovetail with chef Daniel Humm's classically minded cuisine. Come spring, the restaurant will debut two Brooklyn Brewery proprietary beers, a brown ale and a Belgian-style dark ale, aged in bourbon barrels. 11 Madison Ave at 24th St (212-889-0905, elevenmadisonpark.com)

Gramercy Tavern
Beerhounds have flocked to this refined restaurant since its opening in 1994. Eight draft lines are dedicated to standout American craft beers (Bear Republic Racer 5 $8), while the bottle list spotlights imports like Mikkeller Simcoe Single Hop IPA. There's even a full page of vintages, such as Ommegang Abbey Ale (750ml $22), that are aged in an onsite cellar. Chef Michael Anthony presides over the wood-burning stove, dispatching elegant farm-to-table dishes that pair well with these eclectic beers. Recent winning combinations include the mushroom lasagna ($18) with a bright Founders Porter from Michigan, which mimics the pasta's smokiness and offsets its creamy texture. 42 E 20th St between Broadway and Park Ave South (212-477-0777, gramercytavern.com)

Resto
It's fitting that the city's most ambitious Belgian restaurant boasts an equally compelling beer menu. More than 140 bottles and seven drafts highlight the country's cultish offerings, from ales handcrafted in Trappist monasteries to bracingly funky sours (like vintage lambics and Flemish reds). There's also a hefty selection of large-format (750 ml or more) bottles—such as the dark, rich Chimay Grand Reserve ($28 for 750 ml) and the strong Piraat ($65 for 1.5 liters). The heady, vibrant pours offer a pleasing counterpoint to chef Bobby Hellen's rich and brawny grub. Try the brown-ale-braised beef cheek and bacon with a dry, malty Flemish stout like the Troubadour Obscura ($11), whose dark chocolate and coffee flavors tease out the meat's depth. Resto also offers Large Format Feasts: Choose an animal and give a week's notice and chef Bobby Hellen will design a multicourse nose-to-tail menu for groups of up to 18 ($65--$75 per person). The strapping meals beg for big-bottle pairings (not included) to last you through the decadent marathon. 111 E 29th St between Park and Lexington Aves (212-685-5585, restonyc.com)

Strong Place
A row of placards clothespinned to a brass ribbon above the taps denotes the 24 domestic drafts on offer, and it extends nearly halfway down the 18-seat oak bar. You might choose a malty Belgian-style dark ale and match it with the porter-braised beef brisket ($17). Or order a plate of briny East Coast oysters (six for $16) from the gleaming raw bar and slurp them alongside a refreshing pint, such as the slightly bitter Captain Lawrence Kolsch, which was recently on tap. 270 Court St between DeGraw and Kane Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-855-2105)

Vandaag
The word bierrestaurant adorns Vandaag's doorway, announcing the Northern European eatery as a serious brew destination. The cutting-edge fare—including top-flight drinking snacks such as bitterballen (crisp oxtail croquettes, $10)—is served alongside a selection of equally inventive beers. You'll find 12 drafts and 20 bottles drawn predominantly from Scandinavia, Holland and Belgium, with many of the brews showcasing unusual ingredients. The Mikkeller Ris a la M'ale ($11), made with cherries, almonds and rice, is a sweet, bright bedfellow for chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark's short rib with savory granola, salsify and kombucha ($25). Progressive drinkers can also explore superlative beer cocktails from mixologist Katie Stipe, such as the CB3 Sour ($10): a blend of Flemish sour ale, rye whiskey, lemon, orange and housemade grenadine. 103 Second Ave at 6th St (212-253-0470, vandaagnyc.com)

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