Words | Debbie Burke
To passersby of the Beer House Cafe in the tiny borough of East Stroudsburg, it just seems to be a place to get great beer and pub food. But this may be a bit of a misnomer. Although they devote substantial wall space to showcasing specialty IPAs, what really sets this eatery apart is its unique-to-the-region Algerian-inspired cuisine.
The original idea was to serve traditional American fare like hot dogs and pizza, but the general manager/co-owner Chahrazed Chadli (or “CC” as she is known) said with her business and culinary background, she wasn’t coming on board for a restaurant without its own identity.
CC grew up with Algerian cooking and never had fast food. Her mother taught her authentic cooking and CC ran with it. “It influences the menu here,” she said.
“There are no preservatives, all fresh ingredients, and where possible it’s all locally sourced.”
She’s worked in hospitality since the age of 15; while completing her associate degree in business, she took a cooking class for fun – and stayed another two years to finish a certificate in baking and pastry arts.
The cuisine is characterized by flavors which are artfully layered in an intricate, complex manner. This is no better illustrated than in the harissa that features the interplay of cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, fennel, caraway and cinnamon. Her stew tagine, she said, is “super savory and delicious.” And think about this: the borek (Algerian egg roll) is encased in a flaky-yet-crunchy egg roll wrapper with a surprisingly creamy blend of ground beef, potatoes, capers, shallots and scallions oozing from within.
The drink selection is outstanding, from locally hand-crafted beer to herbal teas to specialty beverages. The watermelon agua fresca is not something vague and watered down; it is concocted with tons of fresh watermelon, simple syrup and lots of freshly squeezed lime juice to brighten it up.
Two outstanding desserts are the fresh baked pain au chocolat topped with a thick coating of Belgium chocolate, under which is revealed a juicy orange tort spiced with almond; and the Algerian baklava, with a honey and walnut interior, rimmed with a nest of spun dough.
As to her future plans, CC would love to expand the kitchen, add an open mic and start a family-style spaghetti and meatballs night (leave your cell phone up front).
It’s obvious her passion is food. “Food puts me in my comfort zone. When my customers feel fulfilled, that’s why I do it,” she confessed.
For more information, visit www.thebeerhousecafe.com.