Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brunch at the TapHouse: Epic Win!

It should come as no surprise that one of Cleveland’s best West Side bars boasts one of the city’s best brunches. Or maybe it does. Should a bar with an impeccable beer selection also offer some of the best late morning meals in the city? They certainly have the audacity to try, but what right do they have to offer excellent drink options AND tongue blowing meals?

I’m speaking of the Tremont TapHouse, of course, where Nicole and I brunched this past Sunday.

After a long, hot day of beer tasting in the sun at Blues and Brews Saturday afternoon and partying all night for Paul’s 30th that evening, we needed a good hearty meal to help undo some of the damage inflicted in the last 24 hours. Having recently been to the TapHouse for drinks and perusing the brunch menus on the tables we were excited to have the chance to take brunch there this past Sunday—until recently we both worked every Sunday. And after a long night of sleeping it off we headed over to TapHouse for some much needed eats.

The often crowded TapHouse was lively but not packed when we arrived and we were quickly seated. Water, coffee (mine), and a Bloody Mary (hers) arrived within a few minutes. Things were off to a good start. And then we started looking at the menu. A problem only in as much as there are quite possibly too many good options on this wonderfully appointed menu. Its opening salvo is oysters on the half shell (oyster power!) with Bloody Mary cocktail sauce, a bold gambit. Antes are upped and re-upped as the menu continues, with a knockout of a grilled cheese and burger. Things are escalated further with a breakfast pizza (eggs + bacon + boursin + tomatoes + mozzarella!), eggs Benedict (with or without crab), a Kentucky style hot brown (look it up), a trio of excellent sounding omelets, and another trio of griddle goodies, just to name a few.

The choice was tough to say the least, and I seriously considered the pizza for a long time, as well as the biscuits and gravy. Ultimately I decided on Chef James Mowcomber’s update on the corned beef hash. The TapHouse’s hash subs out the pickled Ruben fodder for slow braised beef (short rib or shoulder? It’s more or less the same when it’s that tender and beefy!). Mowcomber then steers this down a dusty, vaguely Southwestern path with poblanos, crispy tortilla strips, and salsa. There were also sweet and tender onions, smoked cheddar, and two of the best fried eggs I’ve ever eaten. All this is served over a bed of the TapHouse’s gorgeous potato hash. Gathering a little of each component on my fork, the whole thing is beyond delicious. Succulent, tender beef, sweet caramelized onions, potato crisp and starchy, smokey roast pepper, tender, yolk soaked egg, and just the right amount of crunch from the tortilla bits. A stunning, wonderful celebration of food, assembled beautifully on my plate, and more delicious than it looked.

Nicole chose wisely, if a little safer, as well. Opting for the biscuits and gravy, she received a plate nearly overflowing with tender buttermilk biscuits, rich gravy loaded with chunks of sausage, and two more of those perfect over easy eggs. Having long been averse to the biscuit/gravy pairing and only recently come around my yard stick for good biscuits and gravy is served at Vine and Bean Café on the East Side. The TapHouse’s offering is easily the best I’ve had since. The primary difference being this gravy was more heavily spiced and darker in color as opposed to the white gravy that’s usually ladled on top. But color matters little when food tastes this good. Presented as elegantly as biscuits and gravy can be and in very generous portion, this was an excellent way to get a late start on the day.

Not to completely gush about the greatness of the TapHouse, there was one small aspect of the meal that could’ve been better: the coffee. I suppose there always has to be some flaw somewhere. And it’s not like it was bad, but rather just good. Better than the coffee at most diners, but really nothing special. And I only mention this because it’s a surprise when considered next to the superlative beer selection, brilliant brunch board, and amazing dinner options.

My hat is off to Chris, Jason, James, and everyone else at the TapHouse! Please, continue all this excellent work.

Tremont Tap House on Urbanspoon


Brad said...

I wish my expereicne would have been better. Check out my review from this past weekend.

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