Monday, December 20, 2010

Bar Review: Capital Tap Haus

In some ways it's futile to "review" a bar like the Capital Tap Haus. Inside there is little to distinguish it from every other tavern in the state: tall-top tables in front of tvs, a large bar, some booths opposite the bar and a few seats in the back for privacy. It's surprisingly small. Which means that when there are a little more than a few people there it can feel very cramped very quickly. Most nights this probably isn't much of an issue. But, for ball games it will get miserable quickly. And for Friday night fish it meant that our group, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. MBR, along with the crew from Madison Fish Fry, had a hard time finding a place to wait for our table without being in the way of the staff trying to serve customers and customer trying to get to and from seats.

While we waited we had a beer. You have a choice of Capital, Capital, Capital, or Capital. Of course. They had only one "special" tap - the Tett Dopplebock - which was a little disappointing (the selection, not the beer - the beer was fine, hoppy, flavorful doppelbock). But, the tavern is new, and Capital has not released the Barrel Aged Imperial Dopplebock yet or developed some new stuff for them. Indeed, it's interesting to note that the dedication to Capital, with no formal relationship between the two, makes for a somewhat awkward situation; it's sorta like hanging out in the bedroom of someone smitten with an unrequited love.

Admittedly, the staff seemed fairly knowledgeable about the beer and were certainly friendly and helpful. Though most requests for help deciding resulted in a suggestion of "Supper Club". The 1 hour wait for the table came with numerous apologies (certainly unnecessary) and timing updates.

Our meal left something to be desired however. I have one HUGE pet peeve (and a number of small ones), but I ask one thing: if I order an appetizer please bring it before the meal. I'm willing to overlook making me keep my fork and not refilling water glasses in a timely manner, and pats of butter straight out of a freezer or refrigerator. But I'm not willing to eat my appetizer with my meal. Do not bring it with the meal. I want an appetizer while I'm waiting for the meal; once I have the meal, I have no need for the appetizer - I'm not ordering it because I need more food, I'm ordering it because I want to nibble while I wait for my meal. So, when we ordered our appetizers and then asked a number of times if said appetizers were coming, and then our meals came out first, we simply sent the appetizers back. No harm no foul in my book, but I'm sure they would have rather had me pay for appetizers that they made.

The fish was large and flaky but the beer batter was doughy and chewy; the fryers had lost quite a bit of temperature by that point or they put too many pieces in the fryer at once. Either way, the crust definitely detracted from the fish. Neither the table nor the fish came with bread (a big minus). The coleslaw was ... coleslaw. I'm not a fan of coleslaw so whatever, but it was nothing fancy. The fries were very good: Belgian-style, twice fried frites like those perfected at Brasserie or Jacs.

As an overall experience it was fine and perhaps fish isn't their forte. I'm sure a burger on a Tuesday night would have been more pleasant, as it's a completely inoffensive place. It's serves the same crowd as the Great Dane, Old Fashioned, Graze, the old Local, Argus, or even Coopers or the other number of places that are substantially similar. But, it's got a great location right on the way to football games for people that park up on the square (those of us with free parking there) and right next to the farmer's market. It's inoffensive, doesn't cater to the "student" crowd, and serves Capital beer.

In other words, it doesn't need me to write reviews to convince you to go there. You'll be there eventually, I assure you.

1 comment:

  1. As you say, I'm sure I'd end up here eventually regardless of your review, but this does help answer the question of whether to go just to drink or also to eat. I'd like to try that Tett Dopplebock.

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