A Dragonfly and an Alligator walk into a bar…

I know that sounds like the beginning of a joke. And if I can think of one that fits while writing this review I will work it in. But trying to come up with attention grabbing tag lines can be harder than you think.

We started the weekend like normal with the texts going out midday Friday to figure out where we would meet for happy hour. The Maestro suggested First Magnitude around 4:30. Rowdy replied that she was in and I said I would meet them there though I probably wouldn’t make the 4:30 time. The Maestro came back and said that his Muse would be joining us, which was great. She doesn’t normally show up for happy hour because she is a wine drinker and doesn’t care for beer. But she will drink cider and we always enjoy her company.

I continued the rest of my workday, which was busy, and before long it was time to go home for the weekend. Shortly after I arrived home, a text came in from the Doctor stating that he had a table saved for us at the brewery, but that parking was a premium and that parking on Main Street was probably the best option. After I finished checking on the dog and changing clothes I headed out to meet my friends. Luckily I don’t live far away from First Magnitude so it didn’t take me long to get there. And the Doctor was right… parking was at a premium. But once I got inside I had no trouble getting up to the bar to get a pint. And there weren’t a lot of people inside. But there were a bunch out in the beer garden.

The Doctor, Rowdy, Maestro and Muse were already seated at a table near the bar. I ordered a limited release Session Amber from First Mag, and joined my friends. If an amber ale is done right I really like it and this one was. It had a good rich roasted malt flavor but was balanced well. While I supped that back we all began catching up with each other.

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After a bit Muse decided to head home. Shortly after the lady half of the Newlyweds showed up. (Side note – Henceforth she will be known as the Deck-orator, inside joke, and her spouse will be known as the Chemist.) And another couple (referred to here as C&D) joined us as well.

During our outing at First Mag I decided to go with some guests taps after the Session Amber as I had had all of the in house taps. Nothing against them, in fact I like most of them a great deal, I just like to have a different beer as often as possible. My first guest tap was actually a mead, from Royal Manor Vineyard & Winery. I thought this was really good and could taste a distinctive honey flavor in it, when some meads taste more like sugar this retained that honey taste. My friends are not big mead fans so they didn’t care for it.

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My second guest tap was The Company, a California Common from The Barley Mow Brewing Company. I like Common (or Steam) beers normally, but to be honest this one was not to my liking. Too bitter tasting and not balanced enough for me.

My third guest tap, and my last at First Mag, was Cigar City Brewing’s Hot Blooded Foreign Stout. I really like stouts and this was a good one. A red tinge to the dark color and a little different flavor but good tasting and a nice finish.

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There was a general agreement from our group that sustenance in the form of solid food was needed. I threw out the name Dragonfly as we hadn’t been there as a group in a while. Then Rowdy pointed out that with the kids graduating from college the weekend before we should have no trouble getting in. So we closed out our tabs and moseyed on over, except for the Doctor as he had other things to do.

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Rowdy and I at Dragonfly

Rowdy was right and a table for six didn’t take too long to seat us. Our waitress was Tia (I hope I am remembering her name right) and was a very pleasant young woman. She took our drink orders, which consisted of the Maestro, Deck-orator and Rowdy sharing a bottle of wine, D has a glass of a particular wine and C and I both had Sake, though he ordered a kind of Sake Sampler and I had a bottle of Nigori Sake.

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You may remember that I mentioned Sake at another Asian restaurant in a previous blog post. There are actually many different styles of Sake. When I was younger I was under the impression that Sake should be served heated to about body temperature. And generally I have only been served that type of Sake. I have since learned that heating Sake is usually done only on inferior Sakes. Other Sakes are served chilled, like the Nigori, which is a sweeter and cloudier Sake. It has fine rice sediments in it which is what sweetens the flavor.

So the meal commenced with an appetizer of Won Tons, followed by either Miso Soup or Salad with Ginger dressing depending on the preference, and for the main course we all decided to each order a Sushi roll and we would share, each person getting at least one sample of a particular roll. The only drawback to that for me was a problem I have with shellfish. I’m not exactly allergic to it, but it does wreak havoc with my digestive tract. So I made sure that my roll didn’t have any shellfish but couldn’t say that for the others.

Despite those concerns all of the Sushi rolls were delicious, which is what you would expect if you have ever been to Dragonfly. If you haven’t then you need to go. I must confess that some years back my only experience with Sushi was some dive place and it tasted awful, which put me off Sushi for a long time. Then after moving to Gainesville, I was invited to the home of a Chinese national whose wife made homemade sushi and it changed my mind. It opened my taste buds back up to trying others. Since then I have tried more than a few places and I have yet to find anyplace that does Sushi as well as Dragonfly. And if you are not a Sushi fan they have other excellent dishes there as well. If you are not a Sake fan they also have an excellent wine list and a good selection of beers, both bottled and draft featuring some local breweries.

After dinner, we all settled up our tabs and went separate ways, except for the Maestro and myself. We decided to wander across the street and visit Tall Paul’s for a craft beer or two. Tall Paul’s is really known for two things a big bar loaded with any drink you could want and live bands. I have been there several times with my friends and I have never been there in the evening without a live band playing. But Tall Paul’s is also home to Alligator Brewing, a micro-brewery. They usually have about thirty different taps with craft beers flowing and about ten of them are their own product.

Now over the last few years I have sampled many of their brews and to be honest when I first began trying theirs I wasn’t that impressed. Which was disappointing, as the bar and atmosphere of the place itself was a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy the evening. Luckily their guests taps had beers that were to my liking.

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However, lately, their beers have been tasting much better. A sentiment the Maestro pointed out to me. I started out with a guest tap, Riverton Brewing Company’s Wit Beer, which was just okay. I recently brewed my own wheat beer and it tasted a little better than theirs. So I took the Maestro’s recommendation and tried one of Alligator’s that I haven’t had before, the Cellon Oaked DIPA. If you had read my blogs then you know IPAs in general are hit and miss with me. And a double IPA usually means an even hoppier flavor. And while this had the kick that a DIPA carries with the extra alcohol it wasn’t as bitter as I expected. In fact it was a pleasing surprise. I will definitely be trying more of their brews.

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I’ve still got no joke for the tag line. If you have one then share it in the comments. As far as I am concerned if you haven’t been to either Dragonfly Restaurant or Tall Paul’s Brew House then what the hell are you waiting for? Go! Eat, drink and enjoy!

Papabear

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