First look: City Tap House brings eclectic beers and eats to CityPlace

City Tap House opened last month in the old Brewzzi location. (All photos: City Tap)

City Tap House opened last month in the old Brewzzi location at CityPlace. (Photo credit: City Tap)

CityPlace’s newest upstairs tenant is ideal for its prime space, and not just because its name feels right.

City Tap House opened early last month across from City Cellar, turning CityPlace into a hub of unrelated “city” spots. But what makes the newly debuted gastro pub a good match for the downtown West Palm Beach complex is its eclectic menu options, both in food and drink.

The craft beer-centric restaurant is an East Coast concept that aims for a corner bar, good-grub feel.  Part of the suburban Philly-based Table 95 Hospitality Group, it’s the first of the City Tap restaurants to open in Florida. The gastro pub breathed new life into the former Brewzzi space two years after that popular brew pub closed. The space is now appointed with barn wood and recycled steel and offers indoor and outdoor areas for dining, drinking and even sports-watching.

The beer list alone flows with local and regional craft brews arranged by styles, then listed by weight. Aside from pints and some higher-alcohol 10-ounce­­ pours, beer is also sold by 5-ounce sampler glasses, affording the curious and thirsty a chance to try out different brews.

A 5-ounce sample of Tampa’s Cigar City Horchata ($3) allowed me to savor the vanilla-cinnamon notes of the Mexican-inspired spiced ale between appetizer bites without having to invest a full-size beer.

Crispy + fluffy: City Tap's corn and crab hushpuppies.

Crispy + fluffy: City Tap’s corn and crab hushpuppies. (Photo credit: City Tap)

Those appetizers were not too easy to pick, as the menu offers a solid range of starters, from Korean short rib tacos ($13) to charred Brussels sprouts ($8) to tuna carpaccio with yuzu-ginger dressing ($17) to Israeli hummus ($8).

We settled on a plate of corn and crab hushpuppies ($13) served with a citrus remoulade and honey-thyme butter. These proved to be knockout bites, crispy, flavorful and studded with crab and corn. They were so fluffy and delicious they needed no sauce, much less any kind of butter.

A Florida grouper ceviche appetizer ($14) offered bright, tropical flavors, nicely acidic hits from citrus and pineapple, richness from coconut milk and avocado and grassy notes from cilantro. With tortilla chips for scooping, the bite was complete.

Tropical flavors: a zippy, bright Florida grouper ceviche. (Photo credit: City Tap)

Tropical flavors: a zippy, bright Florida grouper ceviche. (Photo credit: City Tap)

City Tap House’s pimento cheese spread ($8), however, was a miss. Topped with a layer of nondescript bacon jam, the soft spread proved bland, even when spread on a caraway cracker. It took a tart pickle slice to give the bite a lift.

Our entrée choices did not disappoint. A dish of crispy suckling pig ($24), the night’s Daily Supper” special, offered a neat wedge of pulled, confit pork topped with a spot-on layer of crispy crackling. This pork wedge crowned a sweet potato and poblano hash and a ring of spicy apple sauce. The contrast of flavors and textures elevated the dish.

The City Tap Burger ($15) was a juicy bite. The Black Angus beef patty is topped with cheddar, pickled red onions and a pinkish “secret” sauce that leaked through the bottom bun – not ideal for those who like to pick up their burgers. No worries on my part – I used a fork and knife to scrape the bun aside and cut to the chase, the juicy patty which was cooked to true medium temperature. The side fries, of the “hand-cut” variety, were crispy enough.

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Appetizers include Korean tacos.

We found interesting, yet vaguely Asian, flavors in the Duck Rice Hot Pot ($23), a composition of crispy confit duck (slow-cooked in its own fat), sauteed with Napa cabbage, garlic and peas that’s cooked with star anise and cinnamon-scented long grain rice and aromatics. The mixture is then deglazed with mirin, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha sauce, white soy sauce and sesame oil. The presentation includes  plenty of chopped herbs, green beans and an oozy poached egg. A vegetarian version of the dish, which is comforting and delicious, is offered as well. The white soy lends the dish a round hint of butterscotch for an overall addictive flavor.

 These dishes share the dinner menu with a variety of mussels, pizza, and heftier meat-centric options.

Those who venture to the heftier side of the menu, be warned: There’s one dessert that’s worth saving some room for. The ricotta fritters ($8) are simply sublime. The house-made ricotta becomes more flavorful as it air-dries for 48 hours. The soft cheese is mixed with flour, baking soda, orange zest, sugar and eggs, then deep-fried.  Hot and crispy outside, fluffy and decadent inside, they’re dusted with powdered sugar and served with a citrus-scented crème anglaise dipping sauce. Three words: Run, don’t walk.

These fritters completely outshone our two other dessert selections: a scoop of tangy-rich key lime gelato, and a chocolate pot de crème. Served in a coffee cup and saucer, the chocolate dessert sounded so much better when described by our server. It’s like a chocolate mousse topped with whipped vanilla crème fraiche, then crowned with a bruleed (torched) banana wedge that’s sprinkled with crumbled macadamia nuts. Yeah, go for the ricotta fritters.

REVIEW

CITY TAP HOUSE  

FOOD: B+

SERVICE: B

ADDRESS: 700 Rosemary Ave, West Palm Beach

TELEPHONE: 561-508-8525

WEBSITE: WPB.CityTap.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate

NOISE LEVEL: Noisy at the bar, but the dining room is large enough to hold varying levels of noise. Conversation is possible.

FULL BAR: Yes, a full liquor bar; separate bar area. Happy Hour runs Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.

HOURS: Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and offers a DIY Mimosa and Bloody Mary Bar for $18 with purchase of an entrée.

CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted

RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:

A — Excellent

B — Good

C — Average

D — Poor

F — Don’t bother

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