Arguably the first entry into what has become a mini-proliferation of whiskey establishments in town, Gamlin Whiskey House is the latest from the folks behind SubZero Vodka Bar. Like that popular eatery, Gamlin Whiskey House pairs a huge selection of a particular spirit with a complementary food menu for an all-around taste experience.
If you're going to make a go of it in the CWE, you have to look good, and Gamlin Whiskey House is dressed to the nines. Inside, the space is replete with rustic accents made from reclaimed barrel wood and shelves of pickled veggies in mason jars, which contrast nicely with more modern design touches like the sleek light fixtures. Flat-screen TVs positioned in the upper corners of the dining room show black-and-white scenes of the goings-on at various distilleries, from the stills to the bottling line. The space (formerly Liluma) is enviably located on a corner lot and has plenty of elbow room, as well as prime sidewalk seating.
There are literally hundreds of whiskies to choose from at Gamlin, plus a good array of wines and cocktails, all listed in bound folios nestled in custom wooden boxes on the table. Whiskies are available in either a 1.5-ounce or 2.5-ounce pour, as well as some flights of multiple tipples. We were feeling in a Scotch mood on our visit and opted for a smaller Glenmorangie 10 year ($12) and a larger Laphroaig Islay 10 year ($17).
On the food front, we started off with the Kale Chips ($7), and the Shrimp and Grits ($14). The chips are a good idea, but they just didn't come across, either in relation to the heavier dishes on the menu or flavor-wise. Ours were bitter and somewhat chewy. The shrimp and grits is a sizable portion, almost in entree territory. Plenty of shrimp to be had, and the grits were cheesy enough, though the consistency was akin to sticky rice instead of traditional grits.
Given the steakhouse bent to the menu, we went with the Patio Steak ($26). This dish consists of strips of flat iron steak with a bourbon brown sugar sauce and a side of fries. The steak was cooked to the correct temp (rare, in this case) but the sauce was somewhat overpowering. The sweetness masked a lot of the natural flavor of the meat. The surf proved the better of the turf: The Bourbon Hoison Glazed Tuna ($26) was a nice, rosy chunk of the namesake fish, nicely accented with ginger and a touch of garlic, and served on a bed of tender shallot risotto that's also available as a side.
We finished up with an order of Pumpkin Donuts ($8), a trio of traditional cake donuts—hole and all—with dipping sauce on the side. They had a great texture but the cinnamon sprinkled over the top obliterated any pumpkin flavor.
In addition to dinner, Gamlin Whiskey House also serves lunch and recently started up Sunday brunch service for AM noshers and imbibers.
--238 North Euclid Ave., 875-9500, gamlinwhiskeyhouse.com
Gamlin Whiskey House's Bourbon-Hoisin Glazed Tuna with Bok Choy Risotto
From executive chef Ivy Magruder
Bourbon-Hoisin Glazed Tuna - Ingredients
• 1/3 C hoisin sauce
• 2 T seasoned rice vinegar
• 2 T bourbon
• 2 T maple syrup
• 1 1/2 t fresh ginger, grated and peeled
• 1 1/2 t fresh lime juice
• 1/2 t chile paste with garlic
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 tuna steaks (7 oz. each)
• 2 oz. olive oil
Bourbon-Hoisin Glazed Tuna - Directions
1. Combine hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, bourbon, maple syrup, ginger, lime chile paste and garlic in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
2. In a warm skillet, place seasoned tuna steaks; cook for two minutes. Turn and baste the tuna with hoisin mixture; cook for two minutes. Turn and baste tuna with hoisin mixture; cook one minute, or until desired temperature.
3. Place mound of risotto (recipe below) on two plates. Place sliced tuna on top. Garnish and serve.
Shallot Bok Choy Risotto - Ingredients
• 6 C vegetable stock
• 3 T olive oil
• 1 lbs. bok choy
• 6 shallots
• 1 1/2 C arborio rice
• 1/2 C dry white wine
• 1/3 C parmesan cheese
• 1/3 C mascarpone
• 3 T basil, chopped
• Salt and pepper
Shallot Bok Choy Risotto - Directions
1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
2. Add olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook for one minute.
3. Add rice, stirring for about two minutes to coat with oil. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.
4. Add 1/2 C broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, and stir in bok choy with their basil, mascarpone, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.