At Whole Foods, you will find healthy, organic alternatives to your favorite foods. You can even pick up a nice meal in the middle of the store. All this without club membership fees. However, at Newport Fashion Island, there is a whole new angle Whole Foods is taking.
Talking to some of the patrons, they told me their local Whole Foods sometimes has a small bar in the back of the store. Just a little corner with a few beers. Nothing like the amazing Back Bay Tavern that you will find at Whole Foods Newport Beach.
The Back Bay Tavern is just that, a tavern. Tucked in the back corner of Whole Foods, you can see the outdoor seating as you walk by the store. It’s a can’t miss. On tap, there is a huge selection of amazing beers. Some even are quite rare, but the knowledgeable servers and staff will definitely lead you in the right direction. The outdoor seating area is almost as large as the inside seating area, creating a perfect environment to enjoy your food and drink.
The first drink served to us was Stone’s Go To IPA. This is a bold IPA with a citrus kind of taste. Stone implemented their “hop bursting” technique, where they add hops late in the brewing stage to deliver a stronger more robust flavor. This beer paired very well with the pickles they brought out on the appetizer tray.
The next beer they brought out was a Stone Passion Project. This is a Belgian strong ale with a hazy golden color to it. It was aged in wine barrels, hence giving it a light, fruity taste to it. The sharp cheddar paired with this perfectly. There was also a goat cheese with jam on the appetizer tray. I figured since this is more of a wine beer, I’m sure this would accentuate the passion inherent in the beer. I was very pleased. Not only was the appetizer tray filled with exquisite cheeses and nuts, it was presented beautifully to pair with the beers offered.
The third beer they had has a somber but respectful story behind it. It was Stone’s Burning Rosids, an imperial cherrywood- smoked saison. This beer was made in honor of a brewer who passed in an accident on the job. Its rich bodied taste matches the passion for the brewer it was made to honor. It was skillfully crafted, proceeds of this beer go towards the charitable organizations this young brewer was involved in. Through this very sad story emerged a wonderful beer to honor him.
The final beer was from a local Orange County brewery, The Bruery. They created a dark colored beer infused with cherry and vanilla flavors. Usually, when I look at a dark beer, I become very concerned and uneasy. I am always afraid that it will be too hoppy or bitter. However, in this case, I was pleasantly surprised to find an almost sweet taste to this beer.
As I was finishing the last few sips of my beer, one of the most amazing things happened. Sliders were brought out. Sliders are one of those dishes that are becoming very popular, but it isn’t easy to do correctly. Sometimes the flavors clash, or they aren’t filling enough; sliders are easy to mess up. After one bite of these signature sliders, I was hooked. It was simple, a normal cheese burger. Sometimes, we get lost in the complex, and we forget to go back to basics. Sometimes, if you are good enough, you can make the basics look better than the advanced. Back bay tavern has brought back basic to us, in a wonderful way.