With each 16-ounce beer Barbara Haines pulls from a crate on the floor, a different story froths forth. The Strzelec Porter, she explained, was created in 1823 in the small town of Jedrzejow, Poland. Clocking in at 9-percent alcohol, this muddy brew was dubbed "the truth serum" by Barbara, a Polish immigrant, and her husband, Tom.
"You tell people they have to share this beer, otherwise they talk themselves to death," laughed Barbara.
Tom and Barbara Haines opened Tres Bonne Cuisine (formerly the Tres Bon Cafe located in the basement of Macy's downtown) in its new location on Overland in 2005. The small, easy-to-miss space features a sprinkling of cloth-draped tables, a deli case full of various sausages and row after row of unpronounceable European beers and wines. The place also has a small kitchen where they whip up themed dinners--Hungarian, Scandinavian, German, Croatian--every Thursday through Saturday.
Near closing time on a recent Thursday evening, a group of regulars were clustered around a table littered with beer bottles of various shapes and sizes. The remnants of beef rolls with dumplings and cabbage lingered on their plates and dried foam ringed their glasses. Barbara totaled up my selections--which included a Lithuanian "Lobster Lovers Beer" and a Ukrainian "Magnat" beer--without missing a beat in her conversation. Next time, I'll pull up a chair and enjoy my brews, and their accompanying stories, on-site.