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On now through January 19th, all Jack Astor’s restaurants (@Jack_Astors) are featuring the craft beer “Winter Fling” Festival. Based on the premise of straying from your usual go-to beers and trying out a new craft beer, Jack Astor’s is encouraging guests to experiment with their new craft beer selection. They promise that your regular beer won’t get bitter!

On Wednesday, I was invited to have a fling with some of their craft beers and try out a few new dishes the chefs have created to pair with the beers.

Winter Fling Festival

The craft beer selection includes five brews which are available by the bottle and range in price from $5.66 to $6.48. The brews include: Mill Street Organice Lager, Tankhouse Ale, Muskoka Cream Ale, Flying Monkey Hoptical Illusion Pale Ale and Granville Island Lions Winter Ale (which has a strong chocolate taste to it).

Some of the craft beers being offered

The first dish we paired our beers with was the Cluckin’ Chicken Dippers ($9.82). These moist, tender pieces of chicken were fried to a crisp golden brown and were served with several unique sauces and salts. The menu tells you to sprinkle, dip, mix and match in order to make these chicken dippers your own – very fun and interactive!

Cluckin’ Chicken Dippers

The three sauces which came with the dippers included Korean BBQ, Pineapple Boss and Strawberry Bacon while the three salts consisted of thai chili, maple bacon and lemon chili. The surprising favourite at our table was the strawberry bacon. I know what you’re thinking, it may sound like a strange combination but it worked incredibly well and was a very well-balanced sauce.

Up next was the Asiago Shrimp & Smoked Mozza Ravioli ($16.74) which consisted of plump pieces of roasted shrimp which were encrusted with Asiago seasoned flour. The shrimp sat on top of smoked mozzarella basil ravioli which had been tossed in a wonderfully creamy tomato sauce. The dish was topped with some fresh baby arugula which gave the dish a nice freshness. A really delicious entrée!

Asiago Shrimp & Smoked Mozza Ravioli

Our third dish was the Holiday Brie Chicken ($17.97). I never order chicken at restaurants because a) it’s boring and b) more often than not, it turns out dry. Thankfully, this dish proved me wrong. The dish consisted of grilled double breasts of chicken which came out very moist and the delicious toppings weren’t the least bit boring. The chicken was glazed in a honey Dijon sauce and topped with spicy pecans, toasted almonds, diced cranberries, apricots and creamy brie cheese.

I loved the sweetness from the honey and fruits while the nuts gave it all a needed crunch. Top anything with creamy brie and you’ve got my vote! The chicken was also served with a generous portion of Jack’s mashed potatoes, sweet onion gravy and fresh vegetables.

Holiday Brie Chicken

We had two desserts to finish off the meal, the first being the Cherry On Top Chocolate Trifle ($3.97) which is their take on a black forest cake. The dessert consisted of layers of German chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream and brandied cherries. It tasted quite light and I particularly liked the fact that it wasn’t too sweet. It’s definitely a dessert to consider if you’re too full for a rich and heavy piece of cake.

Cherry On Top Chocolate Trifle

The second dessert we tried was the playfully named “The Cookie Ate My Brownie. It pretty much is what it sounds like – a brownie that has been baked inside a cookie. It’s a simple concept but damn, was it ever tasty! The hot-out-of-the-oven cookie had this wonderful gooey chocolatey interior and despite being stuffed at the end of the meal, I couldn’t help eating every last crumb of this.

“The Cookie Ate My Brownie”

I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the food – restaurant chains aren’t usually known for amazing food but I was quite impressed with the new menu offerings I tried here. So, what are you waiting for? The Winter Fling Festival is only on until January 19th, so go ahead and get ‘hop and heavy’ with one of their craft beers!

*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post are my own.*

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