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Saraveza: Best Enjoyed with Brew

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DOES ALCOHOL CAUSE people to lower their standards? Yes. While we're fully aware Tammy from accounting (or Bobby the stock boy) isn't going to look as good in the light of day as she does after a few late-night drinks... who cares? Let's get it on. It'll be fun until the beer sweats drive us from the morning sheets.

It's the same with food. Under the influence of a couple Hair of the Dog Ruths or Moose Drools or Lompoc L.S.D.s, we might crave something we'd never put in our mouths when sober. It's a global truth that's spawned some amazing foods, most of which riff on protein, starch, and salt. Consider the pasty—a courage-reviving comestible developed by British miners, wherein some meats and vegetables are wrapped in a flaky pastry shell. In the hands of tipplers, such a thing is a gut-lining, drink-all-night magic bullet.

Saraveza is a drinking establishment that understands a good drunk must be fortified with drinking food. To that end, they offer a brief menu of salty, fatty, pickled, and fried goodies to keep beer hounds deeply in their cups.

The standard bearer is the pasty, which here comes in three varieties. There's the Nater, a mix of porter-braised beef, potato, carrot, rutabaga, and onion, which has a shiny, flaky shell that on one visit hid an intensely over-salted filling (which admittedly made me thirsty for more beer, if only to relive the dull salt burn). The Nater Potater—sans meat, but including cheddar, was better, with the filling embodying everything good about comfort food. Saraveza's third pasty option changes daily, and on one visit included bacon, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes.

As good as the pasties at Saraveza can be, their homemade pickled veggies put them to shame. No matter the seasonal pick, they're bright, savory, and addictive. This may be true for just about anything the pub puts in brine, actually, since the pickled deviled eggs—their shocking purple halves filled with bright yellow deviled yolks—presented a lively balance between vinegar and the savory, rich, mustardy yolk.

But often, Saraveza's best snacks fall to carelessness. A blue cheese and beet salad had a spectacular tower of butter lettuce and a tangy blue cheese dressing, but the four small beet wedges served more as garnish than an actual salad component. And what would've been a fine dish of roasted potatoes, cheddar, and chives was hampered by cheddar that curdled during preparation—leaving the potatoes on the bottom to bathe in nearly a quarter inch of orange grease. However, if I were slurping down a unique craft brew from one of Saraveza's 10 rotating taps, I'd likely consider some of the food options in the same way one might consider a flirtatious coworker at an office party: fun, and good enough for now.

The table service isn't snappy (in fact, it's a bit vacant), and the rules of the menu can seem brash (forget ordering just a cup of soup, or half a special pasty), but for the beer lover, Saraveza is a paradise. The antique coolers in the front of the bar are as much a gallery of inebriation as they are treasure chests of bottled pleasures. The walls are lined with beer paraphernalia, each tabletop sports a mosaic of bottle caps, and the long bar is perfect for leaning drunkenly into your neighbor's semi-plausible story about his boss, an octopus, and a lady he used to know. Still, a sober approach to Saraveza's food should be taken cautiously. Better to have a pint and order what most moves you.

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