A little beer. A little "bam." When chef Michael Shields built the menu at RiverBrew GastroPub on Riverside Drive, he started with a simple approach: "Take the food I thought would be good for this environment and play with it "¦ anything with a liquid in it, I tried replacing with beer."

The tinkering worked. The venue offers what he calls "elevated pub food with a strong New Orleans accent." There's a requisite burger, but it is one part dry aged sirloin and two parts ground chuck. Then there's BBQ shrimp with a kick, muffaletta, oyster p'™ boys and buttermilk fried chicken among the offerings. "We wanted to set ourselves apart from everyone else," he says of partners Joby Bowman and Christian Babani.

It's a good bet that the beer gelato alone will do that. "An adult float made with raspberry limbic beer," he says, describing the bottle of St. Louis Raspberry Lambic Framboise and raspberry lambic gelato.

The whimsical creativity that inspired these creations may be rooted in his time with Emeril Lagasse, of "kick it up a notch" TV cooking fame, who Shields says taught him "to harness my passion."

While honeymooning in New Orleans, Shields ate at Emeril's, toured the kitchen with the owner, and was introduced to Lagasse's personal assistant with whom he kept in touch. He eventually spent 5½ years in New Orleans, then Atlanta, at Emeril's restaurants.

BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, Cincinnati. (513) 861-2484 or www.BrewRiverGastroPub.com.