Monday, June 8, 2009

Faultline Brewing, Sunnyvale

I spent last week at my company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We have a teenage fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in our house, so we jokingly refer to Sunnyvale as "Hellmouth" -- the vampire conduit that Buffy's town of Sunnydale sits atop. If you're a Portland beer snob the South Bay is indeed a kind of beer Hell. San Jose is the third-largest city in California, twice as big as Portland, and it sports a measly four brewpubs. Sunnyvale is relatively lucky, with two brewpubs, and a Tied House location nearby in Mountain View. How is it that Palo Alto has no brewpubs? I thought Stanford was full of geniuses. All right, forget brewpubs, there should be some good beer bars.... Tacky Irish pubs seem to be about as good as it gets, which isn't so good.

The saving grace in the area is Faultline Brewing, just off 101 in Sunnyvale. They have a decent selection of regular beers, nitro taps and a cask engine, and interesting seasonals. The Maibock seasonal was too strong at 7.2% for session purposes last week, so I stuck to the cask Pale Ale and the Best Bitter on nitro. The Pale is perfect for dinner and conversation, floral but not too bitter. The cloudy cask-conditioned version was a little more flavorful than the regular tap.

Not to belittle the beer, but what's even better is the food at Faultline. It's not cheap -- $18 to $25 dinner entrees -- but it's wonderful. The portions are embarrassingly large, which is an embarrassment I'm always willing to endure. Sometimes large portions mask an inattentiveness in the food quality, but that's not the case at Faultline. The seafood gumbo was dense with fish, shrimp, and sausage, and threatened to spill over the brim of its large plate. The Macadamia-Crusted Tilapia was perfectly crisp, and similarly huge. I'm racking my brains trying to think of a Portland restaurant to compare it to. Maybe a cross between the big plates at Deschutes and the interesting menu at the harborside McCormick and Schmick's, with higher quality than those two put together.

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