One might think that an Italophile foodie would cook dinner for her Italian guests, but this was not the case tonight. Instead, I treated them to dinner at an American place: City Tap House, University City’s latest scene. They tried ribs, creole shrimp with cheesy grits, bread pudding and doughnuts: nothing you could ever get in Italy. I think I’ve turned a corner of sorts.
I’m thrilled that a restaurant which targets the neighborhood’s demographic has finally arrived. It’s got beer, about 60 varieties on tap. If you fill in a card with your tasting notes, they’ll keep track of what you tried and liked (or didn’t). It’s got indoor and outdoor seating, with plenty of space for big parties. It’s got live acoustic music and plenty of big TV screens for watching sports events. It’s got an interesting menu, truly. They serve herb roasted rabbit on Tuesdays and a shaved fennel salad every day. The golden and red beet salad with fried goat cheese is divine. They have a mussels dish cooked in saffron and fennel cream sauce - they’ll even hold the garlic! They’ve got pizza too, kind of. I wish they’d use their brick oven for a real rather than a flatbread crust.
I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. How silly is that? Am I falling in love, or is this just a crush?
Postscript, July 25, 2011: my enthusiasm for City Tap House was a short-lived crush. Within a few months of opening, the menu had changed, for the worse. The quality of ingredients on the beet salad declined visibly, and the main dishes became typical bar food both too salty and greasy. Because I live nearby, I’ve gone back many times for casual dinners with friends, trying quite a few of their appetizers and entrees, salads and sandwiches. I even went for brunch once. While the the atmosphere is still great, I now know better than to expect anything interesting from the kitchen. Too bad. It had so much promise! I *do* still like the Ace Pear cider on tap.