By MARY ORLIN | morlin@bayareanewsgroup.com
PUBLISHED: November 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm | UPDATED: November 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm Original Article: Click Here

With its gangster fedora and dark glasses, the Beer Baron logo sets the scene before you even walk through the door of this speakeasy-style saloon. Inside, the copper-topped bar is lined with two dozen shiny silver taps, and spirits bottles cover the walls. Wine-barrel staves cover the ceiling overhead and barrel rings adorn the light fixtures. And when you spot the thick Whiskey Bible, you know: Despite the restaurant’s name, this is the church of barrel-aged whiskey, craft cocktails and more.

The original Beer Baron bar opened in Livermore in 2012. The new Pleasanton branch offers not only beer and craft cocktails, but elevated pub fare.

You could spend all night reading the whiskey list, a compendium of more than 220 bottles with by-the-flight offerings and 22 pages of tasting notes. Don’t know what Journeyman Ravenswood is? The Whiskey Bible’s got you covered (it’s a rye with licorice and orange peel notes). This is the place to learn about whiskey via flights, such as the Utah High West Distillery Rocky Mountain Rye flight ($13 for three pours), whose aromas and flavors range from smoky to caramel, dried fruit and sweet vanilla.

There’s beer, as well, with a wide range of selections, from Fieldwork’s Salted Coconut Nitro to Alesmith’s Tart Lil Devil sour. Cocktail devotees will want to check out the Barrel Aged cocktail special; on our visit, we sipped a smooth Fancy Baron ($15).

The beer-and-whiskey joint menu seems typical at first glance: wings, fries, burgers. But the wings aren’t the typical neon-orange, sauce-drenched bar bites. On our visit, Green Curry Chicken Wings ($9) were coated in a light, creamy curry with a mild kick. The wings and drumettes were cooked perfectly, with crisp skin and tender chicken meat.

Tres Tocino ($8) — bacon three ways — produced a spicy pepper-crusted version (our favorite),  pecan wood-smoked and candied brown sugar variations. Forget the house vanilla bourbon sauce, which is served on the side. It overpowers the bacon, which is splendid on its own.

The ceiling at the Beer Baron Bar and Kitchen is made of wooden barrel staves. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

The ceiling at the Beer Baron Bar and Kitchen is made of wooden barrel staves. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

The kitchen crew has an eye for presentation. Seasonal Vegetable Salad ($9) was autumn on a plate, with roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes drizzled with a thyme-balsamic vinaigrette. The Seared Salmon ($18) was a work of art, with watermelon radishes and glistening cipollini onions, unexpected for a bar entree. The salmon was seared just right, crisp on the outside with moist, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth flesh. The corn relish and cherry tomato bed added a snappy freshness.

Thick duck fat fries came with our Baron Burger ($16, the fries are also available as a bar snack on their own for $7), and they were the bomb, with a crunchy exterior and creamy interior. Three of the four dipping sauces rocked: a tangy ale mustard, a spicy paprika-spiked ketchup and basil aioli. You can put them on the burger too, a short rib, tri-tip and brisket mix which we found tasty but a tad dry.

We were very happy that Buffalo Trace Bourbon vanilla ice cream was the Chef’s Choice dessert ($8). We scooped up the light, milky frozen concoction with buttery chocolate chip-studded shortbread cookies. A sweet ending to an unexpectedly superb meal. Who knew bar food could be like this?

Whether you come here to drink or dine — or both — Beer Baron is a great addition to Pleasanton’s evolving bar and restaurant scene.

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