Lately, I’ve been feeling extremely sentimental about my final year at UW. As students, we often get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we forget to enjoy the moment we’re living in and the friends that we have right now. This brings me to Abe Erb, a restaurant and brewery in uptown Waterloo that I first encountered populating my friends’ Instagram feeds. Abe Erb is a special kind of place that a lot of my friends (and now I) hold dear to our hearts. Maybe it’s the golden glow of the lights stylishly encased in wooden barrels and wire, the exposed brick, or maybe it’s how everything is coated in sepia and how the joint feels like the collective backdrop for every beer commercial ever. Needless to say, there’s something about Abe Erb that makes you feel like you’re on the set of <em>Cheers.</em></p>
Noticing that the menu was largely meat- and beer-centric with little room for my vegetarian companion, I ordered the classic Abe burger with poutine, accompanied by the Alterior Motive Altbier while my friend ordered a quinoa and barley falafel. The gentle chatter of a relatively calm lunchtime rush surrounded us, and I now noticed the large variety of diners surrounding us — a family guarded by a stroller, a group of friends chuckling nearby at some nondescript joke, two businessmen in power suits. It was somehow comforting, seeing all of these faces together in the same place. I also noticed the presence of the super rare archetype of the bearded barmen (seriously, are those the only types of bartenders people will employ nowadays?) as well as the fact that almost all of the staff were dressed in flannel — the uniform of contemporary Canadiana.
When the burger arrived, it was beautifully presented atop a wooden serving board. The poutine was lovely, and easily the best part of the meal. Although the fries could have been crispier, there was little room for complaint as they were hand-cut, well seasoned, and deliciously accompanied by a satisfying bacon dashi gravy and melty cheese curds. Spring onions added the final touch of crunch and unexpected zestiness it needed.The beer also left nothing to complain about as I am a sucker for a good amber beer, and this one was excellent.
The burger was another story; an eight-ounce ground sirloin and chorizo patty creation with Gruyère cheese, caramelized onions, and Creole aioli. I was expecting a lot of flavour from this dish — however, the chorizo unfortunately ended up lost in the meatiness of the sirloin which turned out slightly overcooked within a charred outer layer. The burger buns could have been better thought out as they seemed like your standard store-bought variety: cold, flat, and ultimately disintegrating from the meat juice and toppings. It was a pity because the flavours I could taste aside from the patty were quite good — especially the caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese — although I could barely detect the so-called Creole aioli. A pretty decent burger, but it’s not one that would win any awards in my book.
In the end, Abe Erb isn’t about food to me. Although some items on their menu are clear standouts (the poutine in particular), what I would say is most memorable about this place is the beer — some of which is gloriously brewed in-house with kegs in clear sight. My suggestion to you would be to round up all your closest friends, grab a pint or two and a bite to eat, and enjoy shooting the breeze in the golden glow of university life before you inevitably join the “real world.”
Want to change the hands of her fate and decide where Lenore should eat next? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @Lenore_ramirez — she probably won’t bite (unless she’s really hungry).