Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taps Pourhouse Round 2

After I visited Taps Pourhouse and Eatery and wrote up my review here, the executive chef Domenic Battistella left me a comment thanking me for the blog post.  He suggested the next time I come in to let him know so we could chat.  I promptly sent him an email letting him know how much I enjoyed the new restaurant and couldn't wait to visit again.  Chef Domenic replied inviting Alex and me to be his guests for a dinner out.  I made a reservation with him for Friday evening and we could hardly wait for our date night. 

Once Eleanor was settled in with a babysitter (thank you Bethany!) we headed out for our second ever date night post baby.  We really need to get out more!  Chef Domenic greeted us as we arrived and we chatted about the restaurant, his background and of course the menu options.  Prior to Taps, he worked for Red Rocks in Huntersville, another fantastic restaurant, but was dreaming of opening his own restaurant.  His concept was gastro-pub and he had even looked at this very location.  When he heard that Taps would be opening here he approached the owners with a potential menu and plan.  They were impressed and snagged him right up.  Chef Domenic was able to create the menu he had been dreaming up.  When speaking with him you get a sense of the passion and pride he takes in his work.

All of the food, including condiments, is made on site.  Fresh and fun is the takeaway from this restaurant.  From the housemade onion jam to the Naan (flatbread), it is all delicious and freshly made!  I enjoyed my first experience at Taps very much (despite a few disappointments).  And my second visit was even better!

(While Chef Domenic did provide complimentary dinner for Alex and me, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.  I have not received any monetary compensation for this blog post.)
To start our evening, Alex and I ordered a flight and requested the bartender's choice.  We enjoyed all but one of the beers in our tasting.  From left to right: Alegash White (yum!), Greenway IPA (probably our favorite), Old Hickory Ruby Lager (yuck!), and lastly the Old Rasputen (the other favorite).  I really like dark, porter style beers.  I don't think I could ever drink a full glass, but I love the flavor!
Alex ordered the Beer-leaven Pretzels as his appetizer.  Our first batch came out over-cooked and hard and Domenic quickly rectified the situation.  They were yummy, but let's be honest, they were truly just a vehicle for shoveling the onion jam down our throats.  We are condiment lovers here, and that is probably our favorite condiment to date.  (Ok, ketchup in Africa is probably still my favorite--but this takes a close second.)  A word to the wise, these pretzels are not your typical concession stand pretzels.  The dough is house-made, dense and hearty.  We really enjoyed them!

Another note about the pretzels and our meal in general: in no way was this meal completely vegan.  Chef Domenic was careful to point out which parts were vegan and which weren't.  As you know, Alex and I no longer abide by the vegan lifestyle 100%.  We prefer to eat vegan most of the time, with the exception of eggs.  But we are not picky about certain aspects here and there.  For example, dessert is usually eaten without any discrimination and in the case of these pretzels we opted to turn the other cheek when we were told that they are fried in beef fat (which they use for all of their fried foods).  Without going into a big long science lesson here, at Taps Pourhouse they use lard from the animal instead of hydrogenated oils to avoid trans fats.  What I appreciate about our experience at Taps is that they are very forthcoming with all information.  As a vegan you can feel good that what you order will be made with care to avoid cross-contamination with any animal products.  When you ask a question they will be sure to give you the right answer, and you will be treated with respect for your dietary choices.  Chef Domenic prides himself on offering options for everyone at his restaurant!

Ok, I'm getting wordy...onto more food photos!

My appetizer was seriously delicious.  When Domenic was recommending it to me, I thought he meant it to be my appetizer since it is on the "Shares" list.  I think he meant it to be my meal, however, because when it came out it was giant!
The Grilled Flatbread includes delicate Naan coated with delish tomato jam and topped with melted goat cheese, roasted garlic, fennel, onion, pear, shiitake mushroom and arugula.

I could eat this forever!  Only recently did I start enjoying cheese and some dairy again.  Before my first experience at Taps I am not sure I had ever had goat cheese, and now I am quite obsessed.  It is sweet and creamy and the perfect compliment to the pears and roasted garlic.  I was weary of the whole cloves of garlic, but they are roasted to perfection and mild on the palate.  And that tomato jam is AMAZING!  Seriously, I could drink it!
For his entree, Alex of course ordered the vegan barley patty in place of the beef patty on the Pretzel Burger.  Chef Domenic explained the ingredients and process of the vegan patty and it was seriously impressive.  Flavored slightly with curry, he uses part of the ingredients blended together as the binder. 
Alex really enjoyed his sandwich.  I kept stealing little bites of the patty and couldn't get enough.  I think it would be delicious served on top of one of their salads (in place of the meat) as well!
For my entree, I went back to the Veggie BLT-A to see if it could redeem itself.  The sandwich is meant to be served on a grilled baguette with smoked beets, arugula, tomato, avocado, and goat cheese paired with a side of caramelized ramp mayo.  My first experience with the baguette was less than stellar.  The bread overpowered the sandwich.  This time Chef Domenic sent it out on toast just as I requested and it was perfect.  On the side I tried their Artisan Mac and Cheese which is creamy and delicious.  I think I ate more cheese in this one meal than I did in all of 2011 but it was totally worth it.  Sorry folks...cheese is good!

We couldn't leave without trying another one of their intriguing desserts.  I ordered the Beerimisu.  From their menu: "Like Tiramisu, only with beer, smoked porter to be exact!" 
(We were running out of lighting as the evening wore on.)

This dessert was sweet and delicate, but not quite what I was expecting.  I didn't detect the porter as much as I had hoped and it was a little heavy on the cake.  Of course I haven't had a real Tiramisu in a very long time, but I was hoping for something a little more rich.  Nevertheless, I polished off my dessert and savored every little bite. 

Overall my second visit to Taps Pourhouse and Eatery was wonderful!  Chef Domenic was a very gracious host and we enjoyed our meal immensely!  I would really recommend you check out their menu, maybe watch an NCAA game there while sipping a beer from their ginormous selection and munching on the Bacon Caramel Popcorn.  Or if you are a little hungrier, try a hot dog or two from their "Show Dogs" list (BTW Chef Domenic...you should offer vegan hot dogs as an alternative on any of them, just like you do for the burgers!).  And might I also suggest you try the Veggie BLT-A, because clearly it is my new favorite sandwich in Mooresville!  Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment