We are awash in a sea of suds. And there is nothing saccharine about the rise of purveyors of malted barley and wheat in the Holy City.
Craftsman Kitchen and Tap House
Cuisine: Global American
Category: Neighborhood Favorite
Address: 12 Cumberland St.
Bar: Full-service bar; 48 beers on tap; 12 designated IPA taps; dedicated 3-page beer menu
Hours: Daily 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; food served until 1 a.m.
Food: 3 1/2
Costs: Soups and salads $6-$10; cheese plates and charcuterie $8-$10; bar classics $5-$10; entrees and sandwiches $8-$20; sides $3; dessert of the day.
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Parking: Street and parking garages
Other: Monday-Friday lunch special 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (pick two of three starred items for $10 and includes alcohol-free beverage); daily feature sheet; beer specials; special events; “Hoppy Hour” 4-7 p.m. special prices on drinks and appetizers; Sunday brunch; email@example.com; www.craftsmentaphouse.com, Facebook and Twitter.
After many delays, Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House opened in the former location of Johnson’s Pub and Pizzeria on Cumberland Street.
Co-owners Philip Fisher and chef Todd Garrigan utilized the services of David Thompson Architects. The operative word on this project is craft. From the hand-tooled copper bar to the Moran Woodworked Furniture of Michael Moran and Celia Gibson to the calibrated illumination of Schoolhouse Electric, Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House ballasts the brew pub to a whole new dimension. They even nailed the courtyard “biergarten,” complete with long tables and benches.
The Tap House is divided into three areas of service. The Pale Room features 12 dedicated lines of IPA and comfortably tufted booths and a few high tops. This is the first room you enter.
The middle room repeats the copper-tooled bar detail with 48 taps of beer as well as high tops. Community tables and flexible seating for groups small and large fill this genial space that overlooks the outdoor beer garden.
In the outdoor biergarten, long benches and tables, strings of white lights and the cozy confines of exposed brick walls make this a popular spot for friends and strangers to gather and toast Hoppy Hour.
Chef Garrigan has come into his own at the Tap House. Stints at Amen Street and Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub and Seafood Restaurant schooled him well in crafting a menu that partners well with beer.
His “bar classics” menu dips into the taste memories of salty, crunchy, tart and spice.
They include a little French brasserie Crunchy Dame with pork belly, cherry jam and an egg ($9); a nip of Fortnum and Mason with his Scotch egg ($5) served with green apple “kraut”; pate forcemeat brined in stout ($8); and a classic burger, house-ground and lubed with a little pork meat go well with the range of beer styles on the potable menu.
The menu reflects his grinding, curing, aging, stuffing and brining of meats and fowl as well as house-made condiments (the mustard packs some pucker power), pickles and jams, breads and crackers.
Sides celebrate the season and candy beets, lady peas and Brussels sprouts along with two potato dishes were featured during this review visit.
The architecture of classic sandwiches ($9-$10) is worthy fodder for the kitchen’s riff on Cubanos, BLTs, Croque Madames and bratwurst formed into meatballs.
Salmon gets a pastrami cure. Local snapper is treated crudo fashion with Asian ponzu sauce and a side of Carolina peaches.
And in the middle of a menu that floats catfish and chips, cheddar pretzel bread pudding, fried chicken and tacos — this kitchen makes a cauliflower souffle to accompany a pan-roasted chicken breast ($15).
The beer menu is substantial. Going “beyond the pale,” those apostles of IPA served in the first taproom, you will find the menu divided into local beers, session beers and mash (including sours, porters and stouts). You also will find a well-educated staff. Our server was not only able to suggest interesting food and brew marriages — a cream ale to drink with a beef sausage and braised red cabbage — but was willing to spend some time with a guide to beer pairings available to the staff. She was as solicitous with her service as she was with suggestions.
At the time of our visit, a flight menu was not available but was a work in progress. That will be a real asset to tasting the expansive inventory of brews.
The Summer Solstice Cream Ale was a refreshing discovery.
Fans of a single hop IPA may well enjoy the Holy City Citra.
Rhizing Bines, a joint venture of Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, may still be available.
The menu will change with the seasons and will reflect limited-edition brews as well as joint ventures and the cream of the local crop. You can order in half-pint and pint sizes.
Desserts are a daily special and lemon bars were featured at the time of this visit. The brunch bunch has been treated to a trio of cookie ice cream sandwiches.
Have a stout with them, as it is always a good notion to take the bitter with the sweet.
Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House joins the beer, bar and brewing mania that has the Holy City in overdrive.
Its presence was a long time coming but it is clear they honed the craft when they tapped into our love for “liquid bread.”