Emily Russo Miller | Juneau Empire                                Charred octopus at Red Spruce.

Emily Russo Miller | Juneau Empire Charred octopus at Red Spruce.

A complementary pair: Beyond The Ale visits Red Spruce

Forbidden Peak’s in-house kitchen is a welcome addition.

Forbidden Peak is Auke Bay’s newest brewery, taking up residence in the building next to Squirez, the first entrant in Beyond The Ale. With a wide offering of beers, Forbidden Peak is a pleasant enough experience, with a good view of the harbor and fireplace feature on the patio.

Red Spruce — led by Juneau veteran chef Lionel Uddipa — is the newest addition to its offerings. Located inside the tastefully appointed brewery, its menu is a little more upmarket than its competitors — with prices to match.

The menu certainly offers more variety than some of the traditional bar food offerings we’ve seen: charred octopus, five spice pork belly congee, and the straight up family meal (enough to feed six!) come to mind. Nary a tater tot or fish and chip in sight. Whether that’ll pay off for Forbidden Peak and Red Spruce in the future, we’ll have to see — Red Spruce has only been open since mid to late January.

Ben Hohenstatt

Tornado Potato

The kitchen in Forbidden Peak is attempting to deliver cuisine that acknowledges actual culinary trends in a way most booze-adjacent eateries in Juneau aren’t.

Plates are fairly small, and dish options include things you’d expect a sit-down restaurant. However, like Icarus’ ill-fated flight, ambition may be Red Spruce’s downfall if you’re a gluttonous Midwest transplant like me.

I ordered the tornado potato topped with beer cheese and brisket, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Yukon golden spud was fried to perfection, crispy and not dripping oil, and the spud’s buttery flavor worked great with the slightly salty tang of the cheese and the sweet, mouth-melting brisket.

But frankly, I could have scarfed down three or four of the skewered potatoes instead of the two that were served, and the beer cheese was delivered in a drizzle a top the dish rather than in the apocalyptic flood I would have preferred. Good food? Yes. Bar food? I’d honestly rather burn a cheat day on something that renders me couch bound for hours.

Michael S. Lockett

Fry Bread

The fry bread was solid. A good combination of meat, bread and vegetables, which, along with beer, comprise the four basic food groups. It was on the snack menu, which was still a little on the high side of pricey, but a good size nosh for an individual.

I wish there was more brisket, but what kind of red-blooded American doesn’t perpetually wish for more brisket? I spent a glorious period of my life nestled in the heart of all things brisket, in Texas, from which there can be no better brisket. But this wasn’t too shabby.

I just thought it was a handy little arrangement altogether. A slightly awkward choice for a snack, given all the cutting or possibly tearing involved, but a great choice for an individual meal.

Emily Russo Miller

Charred Octopus

Octopus may look slimy, but it certainly doesn’t taste like it when charred. I’ve sampled smoked octopus before, but never grilled — it was tender and meaty, with a similar texture to pork. Tentacles might not be for everyone, but I wanted something different from Red Spruce, something I couldn’t get anywhere else (commercially) in Juneau, and they delivered.

The mollusk was the obvious star of the show, but for me, the creamy, flavorful polenta was so playful, it made the dish. The accent burst of citrus on top was perfect. The meal was spendy but worth it for the experience.

Peter Segall | Juneau Empire                                 Ramen Noodle Bowl at Red Spruce.

Peter Segall | Juneau Empire Ramen Noodle Bowl at Red Spruce.

Peter Segall

Ramen Noodle Bowl

It was pretty good, but it tasted quite strongly of Chinese Five Spice, not miso. The noodles seemed like they weren’t cooked enough, that might be the nature of the noodles themselves but I was disappointed.

I expected a little more food for the price, which was on the high side.

Overall

7.8/10

The food and the selection were varied and a pleasant departure from the Juneau staples, but that price range could be a little vicious. The premises itself is clean, neat, new and uncrowded which is a definite plus. It’s definitely a good option for those looking for something a little quieter and a little fancier than Squirez or Sandbar, your other options in the area, but if you’re looking for straight classic bar food, this may be just a little bit on the posh side.

About Beyond The Ale

Our staff picked a range of food and evaluated it independently. All of these evaluations reflect the experience of the individual journalist, and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation for or against any given restaurant.

A complementary pair: Beyond The Ale visits Red Spruce

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