Moerlein house's secret to good food? Beer

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It’s not just about drinking beer at the Moerlein Lager House, which
opens Monday. The menu of the 724-seat restaurant features food that
goes with beer, is cooked with beer or uses some of the ingredients
that are used in making beer.

“We’re using the world-class Christian Moerlein beer in multiple ways
in the menu,” said Carl Chambers, executive chef of the new beer pub
and restaurant.

There’s beer in the blue cheese dressing, Barbarossa dark lager in the
barbecue sauce, OTR Ale in the beurre blanc and Hudepohl in the fish
beer batter. Smoked malt is used in the beer belly marinade and bread
is made from spent grain. There’s even beer can chicken. Many of the
dishes involve several-day processes, such as the smoked and brined
and braised pork belly.

They’re also working with local purveyors for many of the dishes.
Avril-Bleh meats, the 118-year-old butcher on Court Street, Downtown,
is making the metts, brats and other sausages on the menu. The
ingredients from which customers can put together cheese and meat
boards also come from Avril-Bleh.

There is definitely a German caste to the menu, but the many choices
range well beyond German. Familiar beer-pub dishes such as pretzels
and beer cheese, burgers, onion rings, and fish and chips anchor it.
Higher-end choices include cedar-roasted salmon, rotisserie prime rib
with Barbarossa demi-glace and horseradish; paella and beef
stroganoff. There are also salads and flatbreads.

The Cunningham Restaurant group is running the restaurant. The group,
headed by Cincinnati native Mike Cunningham, also owns Stone Creek
Dining Company, which has locations in West Chester and Montgomery, as
well as eight other restaurants in Indianapolis.

Chambers earned a degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales
University in Charlotte, N.C. He has worked at Fenouil Brasserie in
Portland, Ore., and has been with the Indianapolis-based Cunningham
Group since 2009 as chef de cuisine for the Stone Creek Dining
restaurants.

He worked with Tim Keesling, Cunningham Group's executive chef, and
Richard Dube, the Lager House brewmaster, to create the beer-friendly
menu.

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