The Tap Room, Brattleboro VT

It feels odd trying to write up The Tap Room because it's related to our "local," the Flat Street Brew Pub. (By "local" I mean that Flat Street is our default drinking establishment where we go hang out as often as possible.) So just know that this is a biased review because we love it already.

Anyway, the Flat Street Brew Pub, at 6 Flat Street in Brattleboro, Vermont, opened about 3 years ago. It is a wonderful room with a good vibe. Cool artwork by local artists. Great drinks selection including beers from the Berkshire Brewing Company (Steel Rail Pale Ale is my favorite). And couches. Snagging one of the 2 couches makes me feel like I'm living in the city again--totally VIP. So it happens that the pub has a lower floor that has been generally out of use. It's housed various food and entertainment establishments over the years. It seems like a perfect night-club spot because it's essentially a basement encased in concrete, and thus could really CRANK the music without bothering anybody. But it still feels open, not like a bunker. I like the windows all along the southern wall--one storey below the street. They look right out on the Whetstone Brook making its last dash to the Connecticut River.

Now, the downstairs space has been totally renovated and redone. The bar has moved from one end of the room to the other. A dark hallway was opened up to become part of the main room. And as a former restaurant, The Tap Room has something the upstairs pub lacked--a kitchen. So basically, my favorite bar has expanded and it now includes another bar and a restaurant. We were really excited to get an invite to the "soft opening" last weekend of this refurbished space. Here's the (blurry) space on our first night there, looking toward the bar, after most of the diners had left.

At the soft opening we were invited to pick anything from the menu. They have starters, salads, burgers, entrées, and kid's stuff. The beer list seems a lot longer downstairs than upstairs--nice. I even saw a lambic on there! Given free rein over the menu, we decided to go for burgers, since that's what we would order if we were paying for it ourselves. We also each got one other course. My fellow diner had the house salad--he thought the portion was great (he is a big salad lover, so that means there was a lot!). From my spot it looked like a fine mix of interesting greens plus a side of balsamic vinaigrette. Basic. Good. I went for the shrimp cocktail--like most of my female relatives, I never pass up shrimp. The cocktail sauce was really good, nice and horseradish-y. I was a bit confused by it being served on a chiffonade of lettuce. Don't recall having seen that in a shrimp cocktail before, but it seemed fine. My helpful suggestion: serve the cocktail on a plate so diners have a place to put the shrimp tails.

For my burger, I had the "Texas in Vermont." The menu said it had Texas chili on it and Vermont cheddar cheese. It was pretty good, but when I hear the word "Texas" I expect to be tormented by spicy heat. The chili was fine, but did not pack any punch. Also I am not completely sure that Texas chili is supposed to have beans in it. But bean chili is what I'm used to, so I'm not complaining. This photo is probably a little TOO close up.

My fellow diner had a Cobb Burger, which had bacon, guacamole and bleu cheese on it, except he had them hold the bleu cheese. (Crazy!) He liked it fine, but it seemed like he wanted just a plain burger with nothing fancy on it at all. The menu only had specialty burgers.

Other notes: Fellow diners told us the conch fritters were great. We also heard good things about the lobster ravioli. (There's a mushroom ravioli, too.) Also, the fries at this place are killer. They are not French fries, they're pub fries--super salty, kind of floppy in a great, melting, savory way. We went back to The Tap Room a week later and got 2 baskets of these fries as an appetizer before heading home for dinner. Totally delicious. We're looking forward to a lot of happy evenings here!

1 comment:

ValleyWriter said...

Oooh - this looks great! Might have to make a trip up North to check it out.