Old-World Pub & Grub

The Abbey - A Trappist Pub

by Jamie Menaker

The mark of a successful city is its downtown, both for the ability to keep spending within the community and to raise the quality of life for its residents. Slowly but surely, the Miracle Mile has become a burgeoning downtown district in Stockton, and each new locally-owned restaurant or shop on the bustling stretch of Pacific Avenue brings the community closer to this goal. The Abbey Trappist Pub is just the type of business the Miracle Mile is looking towards-authentic, locally-owned, and designed to fill an untapped niche in Stockton.

The brainchild of Kevin Hernandez (Ave on the Mile) and Ryan Hanyak (formerly executive chef at Ave on the Mile), the Abbey is a haven for those who appreciate top-notch craft beers. Hanyak has personally tasted and can describe each beer served at the Abbey, typically eight rotating beers on tap and close to seventy bottled selections.

"The mission statement is good food and good beer," says Hanyak. "My idea was that there's no place in the area that serves good, simple food late into the night, and good beer also." (The Abbey stays open until midnight weeknights, and 1:30 a.m. weekends.)

Hanyak continues, "The craft beer movement has become so big elsewhere, in Oakland and the East Bay, and we wanted to bring some of that here. Right now our mix is half American craft beer, and half old-world style beers, with an emphasis on Belgian beers. The rich history of Belgian beer brewing is so interesting."

What this translates to is a small, intimate pub nestled into the Miracle Mile, with rich mahogany tables and quiet corners to sip brews-think medieval beer pub with a modern twist. The Abbey even has a tablet of commandments on the wall: Thou shalt order from the bar. Thou shalt ask about our "I don't really like that beer" policy. Thou shalt not drink thy beer outside (this is not Europe). Thou shalt nudge over to make room for thy neighbor.

In the spirit of adding new beers to one's palate, Hanyak encourages visitors to sample the beers on tap before settling on a selection (this isn't available with the Abbey's bottled beers for obvious reasons). The Abbey changes out about 8 to 10 of the bottled beers each week, and usually 3 or 4 of the selections on tap, so each visit presents the opportunity to try a new brew.

The menu is small, and each item is simple and delicious, meant to compliment the beer list-Hanyak calls it upscale, California-style, pub food. Committed to using local produce and acting sustainably whenever possible, Hanyak himself visits the local Farmers Market twice weekly to shop for inspiration for the week's specials. All sandwiches are made on the famous Dutch Crunch rolls from Podesto's Market in Stockton.

Standards on the menu include the Wolfsen's sausage sandwich with grilled onions and the Abbey's signature pickled slaw (Wolfsen's is based in Gustine, CA an hour outside of Stockton); the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with housemade barbecue sauce and Abbey slaw; and beer-battered fish and chips with sustainably-caught Pacific cod. The Belgian-style fries are served with your choice of an impressive collection of housemade sauces, the likes of lemon-caper or chipotle aioli, mango ketchup, and curry tarragon mustard. Soups in a bread bowl, cheese and salami plates, and salads are also tasty here and made from only the freshest ingredients.

The Abbey is also making a name for itself with funky events like Wednesday Trivia Nights and fifth Friday Fake Mustache Nights, as well as events to support the community, an element of the business Hanyak feels strongly about-most recently, the Abbey raised over $700 for the Stockton Police K-9 Connection.

"Really, we were just throwing around ideas for another restaurant and thinking of ways we could improve Stockton," says Hanyak. "Kevin [Hernandez] and Jason [Laurenti], also from Ave, and I are all dedicated to improving the Miracle Mile and the community. I love great beer, and the rest is history."

If you go: The Abbey - A Trappist Pub 2353 Pacific Ave., Stockton (209) 451-1780, www.abbeytrappistpub.com

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