Locals’ favorite

Owner Art Farley enjoys a Red Headed Stranger at Brasserie St. James.

Owner Art Farley enjoys a Red Headed Stranger at Brasserie St. James.

Photo By allison young

Brasserie St. James is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Brunch is Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit brasseriesaintjames.com.

If wine is the essence of life, then surely beer has to be the broth of life. Art Farley, the owner of Brasserie St. James, is a local boy, and home brewing was his hobby. He spent the last decade in Tinseltown in the movie business, and also worked in construction.

When he came home to Reno, he knew what he wanted to do, and the St. James Infirmary—a bar with great brews, old flicks and good music—on California Avenue was his first effort and a victory. But he wanted more, so at the site of the old Crystal Springs Water Company, Farley created a country inn much like you might find in Bavaria or Brittany in the north of France.

The place features wood floors and tables, stone fire places, high ceilings, and brick walls. With four dining areas, two indoors holding 134, and 90 outside on a raised patio deck and lower courtyard deck, make it roomy with old-world ambience. Farley’s baby is a state-of-the-art brewpub.

Hiring a young brew-master, Josh Watterson, from Portland, Ore., Farley produces 10 beers and four sparkling sodas. Watterson trained at the World Brewing Academy, earning a diploma in International Brewing Technology, and studied in Germany as well.

There’s lunch ($8-$16), weekend brunch ($10-$12) and dinner ($8-$22) menus, with a Buenos Aires barbecue special ($55) that feeds four. I wanted to pair with some of the microbrews, so Farley pointed me in the direction of The Pig & The Kraut ($16), a savory dish with the pork shoulder slow cooked in the Witte Album Track I Belgian wheat beer. This beer added hints of tropical fruit and sweetness to the flavor of the very moist meat. Set atop mashed potatoes and surrounded with red cabbage sauerkraut, this hearty threeway marriage of tart, salt and savory flavors was creative and several notches above any other comfort food you’ll find today.

With that, I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went with two brews, The Witte Album Track I and The Third Man, both Belgium-styled suds. I had 13-ounce tulip glasses ($5). They fit like liquid gloves complementing the food flavors. The Witte was pale yellow, with a vanilla and citrus sweetness and The Third Man was a stronger golden ale, hoppier and with a drier finish—nice.

Next, I had the Dixie Chicken ($14), chicken thigh soaked in buttermilk to keep it moist and add a layer of flavor, then rolled in a little flour, corn flakes and Panko, and quick fried. It was served on a bed of kale and creamy polenta—and again, creative and flavorful. The kale had a bit of red pepper flakes for a very nice spicy finish, and the rich, creamy polenta held everything together.

The Red Headed Stranger (tulip $6) was my personal favorite brew, a dark, amber red with a nice little spice, not too hoppy, and a nice long finish. All the beer is brewed with water from an artesian lake located 285 feet below this historic icehouse. And they offer non-alcoholic sodas ($2.50), like Birch Beer and Root Beer, made fresh to order.

Kudos to the two “head cooks,” Josh Berreman, with time at the 4th Street Bistro, and Erick Caballero, who worked at Lulu’s. With the proper trappings of a country inn, polished, yet unfussy pub food that uses the best local ingredients and classic dishes with playful twists, Brasserie St. James is already a locals’ favorite.