Pair, Shaped

The art of matching beer to food

"Beer reacts completely differently on the palate than wine," says Adam Dulye of The Abbot's Cellar.

"The acidity is lower, the alcohol is lower," the chef explains. "Beer dances around the palate."

At the gorgeous new Mission restaurant, Dulye is identifying intriguing matches between food and beer. His food is fresh, straightforward California cuisine, which gives diners room to play with the 35 by-the-glass pours and 100 bottles on the list.

There's much worth tasting. Still, we recommend listening to the waiter's pairing suggestions, many of which come from Dulye, or ordering the three-course tasting menu with beer for $60.

The server might point out the unexpected sympathies between Brasserie d'Achouffe McChouffe ($8), a nutty Belgian dark, and sautéed halibut with clams ($26)–or bring you a hearty Marin Brewing Point Reyes Porter ($5 for 13 ounces) with a dry-aged strip loin ($25).

The pairing of a tart chèvre cheesecake ($9) with a viscous, coffee-like Great Divide Brewing "Yeti" Imperial Stout ($5.25) is so successful, Dulye can't bring himself to take it off the menu.

Nor should he.

The Abbot's Cellar, 742 Valencia St. (at 19th St.); 415-626-8700 or abbotscellar.com