Hail to the Library Alehouse

IMG_5101Beer lovers and foodies are excited about Executive Chef and owner Tom Hugenberger’s new menu at Library Alehouse. This talented chef took over the kitchen a year ago at this Santa Monica gastropub. As the class valedictorian at the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, he has incorporated more haute cuisine.

As the class valedictorian at the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, he has incorporated more haute cuisine in to the menu. For example, he offers a USDA prime chuck acidic Hell burger with ghost pepper aioli, pasilla, habernero, jalapeno, grapefruit, and pepper jack on a brioche bun to go with an ale. Yet, I recommend his Allagash Belgian-style white beer basted roast chicken served with roasted potatoes, golden beets and carrots. What enhances the dish even further is a side of Hugenberger’s exquisite chutney of raisins, apricots and cranberries with toasted pine nuts and a red wine vinegar splash.

Chef Hugenberger adds eight different spices to his chicken including cinnamon, coriander and chilies. “I saw this recipe in a magazine and added a few of my own touches to make this dish,” Hugenberger said.

Born in Seoul Korea, Hugenberger remembers moving to Los Angeles and tasting his first grapefruit and plain yogurt on the airplane. Both were very sour. The flavors were so different than he was used to, that he soon developed a desire to taste all of the new and exotic foods in America.

He enjoyed cooking eggs and toast for his father on weekends and appreciated the compliments he received from his family.IMG_5109

One of his fondest memories growing up was watching the sitcom, “Alice” with his parents. He told them that someday he would open his own version of “Mel’s” diner. After years of culinary experience, including working as a sous chef for Josiah Citrin at Melisse, Hugenberger opened his first diner in Culver City – S &W Diner serving country breakfast and lunch comfort food.

When he received the opportunity to work at the Library Alehouse, known for its extensive “library of ales,” he jumped at the offer. He enjoys working with certified Cicerone®, Alex P. Davis. Davis has been carefully tasting and selecting craft beers and ales for the past three years offering a diverse list of ales for guests to explore with 29 rotating taps.

Hugenberger incorporates his passion for food by preparing dishes made from organic, local ingredients whenever possible. You can find the chef at the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday.

The day I had lunch, I enjoyed his fresh roasted beet salad with burrata, arugula and crisp beet chips. Another spectacular dish was a white flat fish steamed in parchment paper with Napa cabbage, celery, carrots and red peppers. Hugenberger adds thin slices of yellow squash and zucchini to resemble colorful fish scales. He tops the fish with some Thai chili spice to add a touch of heat. It’s served with Jasmine rice to cool it IMG_5108down. When the paper is cut open, steam escapes to reveal the tender and flavorful fish.

The restaurant has been recognized with a sustainability award by the city of Santa Monica. It’s also focusing on making it possible to “eat on the street” with $10 lunches. Library Alehouse wants to be a part of the community by offering fundraisers and brunches with 15 percent of the customers’ ticket going to a charity or school.

You’ll be a happy diner by trying one of Hugenberger’s new dishes paired with one of Davis’ delectable ales.

They’re open for lunch Monday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Dinner is Sunday through Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 6 to 11p.m. Sunday Brunch is from 10:30 a.m. $-$$ 2911 Main St. (310)314-4855.

This article is published in the Oct. 31, 2013 Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.

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