The marriage of food and beer is only ever as good as the makers of the beer and the food. At the Deep Water Grille, brew master and chef have the opportunity to work hand in hand to create dishes that feature beer and beers that complement food. “Because of the brewery, beer almost always makes it into new dishes, whether it be in a sauce or added to a soup or used in some other way in the food,” says David Martin, regional manager of the Deep Water Grille.
The Deep Water Grille is the busiest of six restaurants in Wisconsin owned by Mark Gutteter. It came to its current location in 2001, opening in May after burning down on Apr. 1 of the previous year. “The fire was the result of a faulty deep fryer, and although it was April Fools’ Day, it was not very funny,” says Martin who has worked for Gutteter since 1994.
After the fire, Gutteter hired Bo Bélanger (left) as the original brewmaster. Bélanger bought the brewery portion and serves as brewmaster, working to develop new and seasonal beers which are available in-house alongside regionally distributed favorites such as Inland Sea Honey Pilsner and Nut Brown. Bélanger has differentiated himself from other brewers by growing his own hops and using hops and grains grown in the area. Although his materials are not exclusively local, they are still used to give customers a taste of the Wisconsin terroir.
“Our chefs are known for their creativity,” says Martin, and with the availability of fresh beer and a brewmaster / owner who works on site, the possibilities are endless. One of the fixtures of the menu is the Nut Brown Ale Beer Cheese Soup (cup $2.75; bowl $4.50). The soup is a thin broth that has an oily heavy body and the cheese is melted into the soup like cheese curd dumplings.
Chef Kevin Cousins (below) was sous chef for the restaurant since the previous site and has been the chef of the Deep Water Grille for the past two years. Cousins makes a Brewery Malt Crusted Pork Tenderloin ($18) that is a perfect pair for the Seasonal Applefest Ale that the brewery has carried through the fall. Cousins uses Bayfield apples, butternut squash, and a Nut Brown Ale sauce. The dry crust and the syrupy richness of the sauce is a balance that’s celebratory of the flavors of the season. Bayfield apples are only one of the many local ingredients used by Cousins. He also sources food from Bodin Fisheries, Maple Hill Farm, Freehands Farm, Highland Valley Farm, and the Ashland Baking Company.
If the Deep Water Grille is too busy, next door The Alley, also owned by Gutteter, offers South Shore Brewery beers alongside pizza and Italian cuisine. Opened in ’04, The Alley used to actually be an alley between the Deep Water Grille and the next building.
BEST BET: Try the Nut Brown Ale Beer Cheese Soup — it’s a fixture on the menu for a reason.
Deep Water Grille and South Shore Brewery
Gastropub in Ashland, WI
808 W Main St
Ashland, WI 54806
OWNER / CHEF: Mark Gutteter / Kevin Cousins
Daily 11am-10pm, Bar until 2am
BAR: Full, including house-brewed beer
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $9-19