Restaurant-prepared pestos can be bland, tame, or otherwise disappointing. But at Keg & Kernel in downtown DeKalb, homemade pesto takes center stage over Detroit-style pizza, and is emblematic of a restaurant that knows flavor.
The Margherita pizza features a generous helping of pesto drizzled with Margherita toppings, on a classic Detroit-style crust with the traditional crispy cheese along the edges. It’s big enough for two to share. The manager told us that surprisingly the pesto is made without nuts, which completely caught us off guard. Couldn’t even tell there were pine nuts, walnuts, or any other choice nuts missing. It is only offered on another item, a pasta dish, which is a shame. A chicken sandwich with that would be pretty amazing. The menu notes that dairy-free and gluten-free pizzas are offered.
The flavor also pops brightly on the “everything” pretzel. Our table had two of the starters to share: one savory and one with the “everything” flavor. And that it was all terrific, blending garlic, poppy, sesame, and other choices into an appealing taste, all topped off with a silky smooth Obatzda cheese spread. The German mustard was a bit intense for us, but the cheese spread was perfect.
The Brewmaster BBQ Burger blended many elements – sauce, bacon, cheese, pickles, onions and aioli – into a perfectly balanced bite every time. The bacon was particularly thick and flavorful, and did a lot of heavy lifting. There was also an ever so subtle spicy kick. He overpowered nothing and added to a top notch burger.
The kids’ meals were also solid, with side dishes and a drink for eight bucks or less. On the kids burger they let the kid choose what they wanted on it, always fun. We kept it simple by asking for lettuce and tomatoes. It arrived with fancy arugula on top as a nice touch.
The kids macaroni and cheese that came with the golden chicken was the staple variety. The chicken had a nice texture and was very tasty. It’s featured in some adult sandwiches and probably does a good job there too.
The kids pizza is also Detroit style, but without the crispy cheese, which again is a nice call on a kids menu. It was devoured fairly quickly by a picky, elementary age eater.
Keg & Kernel is a creation of the Tangled Roots Brewing Company, so craft beers are a specialty. They are brewed from hops and barley grown on his own farm in Starved Rock Country.
The flavors of each of the adult dishes we selected were amazing, making Keg & Kernel a great choice for dinner in downtown DeKalb.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee of Shaw Media. The identity of the diner is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not post a review.
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WHAT: Keg and Core by Tangled Roots Brewing Company