Thursday, June 26, 2014

DC's CITY TAP HOUSE is a trip worth taking (6-22-14)

When our friends invited us to join them for a museum tour in DC preceded and followed by food, we immediately accepted the gracious offer. When they told us to meet at CITY TAP HOUSE ( a block from the Convention Center, we were a little taken aback. BEER PUB? Well, boy were we WRONG!
On arrival Lamarca Prosecco was flowing and hor's d'oevres surrounded us. I immediately tried to cut the carbs by not having the FLAPJACKS with MAPLE SYRUP the size of adorable silver dollars, but could not resist the amazing LOBSTER ROLLS (although, I did not finish all the tasty roll:-)). WAFFLES & CHICKEN are on the Tuesday evening specials and Sunday brunch, but here we got mini versions, and boy were these bite size treats yummy. GOURGERES were made with Parmesan cheese but full of flavor despite the Italian twist to the French creation. Wonton TACO Chips were laden with YELLOWFIN TUNA TARTARE mixed with Scallion, Cucumber, Red Pepper, a Yuzu-Ginger Dressing and topped with superb crunchy Wasabi Tobiko; these were divine. The most irresistible of all were the CRAB HUSH PUPPIES with Sweet Corn and a Citrus Remoulade; fresh corn shoots adorned the dray and I gobbled these up as well.
It was an amazing introduction into City Tap House's truly fine foods.
We headed to the Corcoran Gallery for our tour where more hor's d'oevres awaited, but most of us were unimpressed by the food from Muse Café of Equinox Restaurant; some folks declared the cheese & wine looked like a Costco platter!
After our superb tour we anxiously returned to CITY TAP HOUSE for an early dinner, where we received another royal greeting as the place was starting to fill up with tons of folks waiting for the World Cup game between the USA & Portugal. Our table of 10 or so was in a separate section, but we could see all the buzz and watch the many TV screens around it; the excitement was indeed electric. Our server Kevin was superb with suggestions, kindness and even folding the napkins after each of us made a trip to the loo (or replacing it if soiled). I have to admit that even with all the sportsmongers, the single stall unisex bathrooms were all kept virtually spotless throughout the long evening.
More prosecco arrived and Chef trainee Chad Weise presented a beautiful amuse of a slice of Watermelon Radish with a small bowl atop of SHRIMP CEVICHE with Yuzu Watermelon Vinaigrette and a plate scattered with Dried Lobster Roe. I had to mix these together for the whole impact and it worked brilliantly with the radish on the bottom, the ceviche and the crunch from the roe. A+.
Kevin explained that City Tap House specializes in beer and has 39 on tap plus 2 on cask at all times. Our table actually sat across from a glass wall that contained all the beer kegs on tap for the bar beyond. I was mightily impressed, even though not a beer nut. Will ordered a flight and got 2 Belgian blondes (no they were not handsome guys!):Ooomegang Henepin and Boulevard Tank 7, the latter he declared the best of the four. A shandly-like beer called Stiegl Grapefruit Randler and Schneider Aventinus filled out his flight. I was intrigued by the 3 STARS Southern Belle in cask that Kevin explained is deep, rich malty brown and "Girl-Scoutified" with thin mints. He was so gracious when I asked for a taste and brought a small taste for everyone at the table. The beer has a smell of thin mints for sure, but more of a coffee flavor; I still will stick to wine. Speaking of wine we ordered a superb MASI "Campofiorino" 2009 Amarino, which is a baby Amarone of sorts and goes well with all the flavorful main courses we had; but first the starters.
We had to order more of those divine CRAB HUSH PUPPIES and we all shared several other items as well:
KOREAN SHORT RIB TACOS were a huge hit on a small soft tortilla round with picked CABBAGE SLAW, Cilantro and a tangy Chili Sauce...YUM!
Pizzas here are fun and there are several choices; we opted for the superb veggie HONEY GOAT CHEESE with sliced red onion, pistachio, rosemary & truffled honey.
The TARTUFO PIZZA smells and tastes fabulous due to the roasted Mushrooms, Taleggio (Italian truffled cheese), Guanciale (pork cheek), fried egg and black truffle, but it is very very messy and you need to be oh so careful. The egg actually ended up mostly on the serving tray in the end, even though it tasted great.
Main courses were ordered and I was beginning to feel quite full, so I opted for one of the three Mussels dishes. AT $12-13 per 2 dozen plump bivalves, this is a great deal. The choices are Beer with Leeks, Italian with Garlic, Tomato and Basil and the choice Kevin said was his fave:PANCHO with Spicy Chorizo, Poblano Peppers, Tomato & Garlic. The sauce was so thick and rich (like an Italian bread soup) that it was impossible not to eat some of  the yummy three slabs of housemade focaccia with the sauce. The TAP BURGER is made from Pineland Farms Ground Beef, Lancaster Rustic Cheddar, Agrodolce Onion, Beer Gastrique on a Toasted Baguette; it even sounds like a local farmer's dream burger.
A number of folks ordered the RIBEYE which comes with Truffled Mash, Foraged Wild Mushrooms, Caramelized Cipollini Onions & sauce Bordelaise, but you all know I am a guy who likes his steaks BBQ'd at home and while this was nice, it was no amazing treat. Indeed, the treat main course of the night was the PORK CHOP Special with Smoked Chipotle/Jalapeno Cornbread, Asparagus and a kick-ass sauce that really got me excited when the whole room screamed as I tasted it (the US had scored a goal:-)).
We thought we were finished when Chef Matt arrived with an array of desserts:
three gelatos from DOLCEZZA: vanilla, chocolate and a to-die-for apple
Almond Strawberry Shortcake with mascarpone Berry Gelato and the winner
BLUEBERRY BUCKLE would make any mom's crumble turn white with embarrassment.
Some very rich chocolate truffles arrived and we headed home more than satiated knowing that CITY TAP HOUSE ain't just a beer pub/sport's bar or even burger joint. It's a great place to dine and loads of fun as well.