Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Though it's been on my docket since it opened, I only just recently made the trip up through Port Richmond to the Memphis Tap Room. To be honest, I'd heard a few days ago that the Memphis Tap Room was one of a few bars featuring Fleur-De-Lehigh, the latest brew from the Philadelphia Brewing Company, so I hurried on over. Once I arrived, however, the keg was kicked and they weren't expecting more for another couple of days. I drowned my sorrows with a mixed drink and happily read the menu. The menus, by the way, are decorated with maps of different cities. I love this little touch. I've become a big fan of maps since working at MPIP and love to see them used in decorative ways.
Lucikly we were a party of five, so I felt better about ordering practically everything on the menu. We had two vegetarians, a vegan, and two omnivores, so we sampled a little bit of everything. These little fried balls of goodness are Corn Dodgers, I was expecting them to come out filled with little veggie hot dogs, but nothing on the menu told me that, I just assumed, and assumed incorrectly. They were simply hush puppies served with roasted red pepper ketchup.
Walla Walla Suicide Rings were crisp and yummy, but didn't bring the heat we expected from the name. Even with the habanero cream (which was delicious!)there wasn't anything suicidal about these rings.
A mix of carrots, zuchini, and mushrooms are dipped in a vegan beer batter for the Veggie Tempura. They only use fresh seasonal veggies, thank goodness, but once fried these little vegetable sticks are a bit oily. The poblano coconut curry dipping sauce looks rich and packed with flavor, but could have used a little more heat.
These pasties (pronounced PASS-Teas) have been all over the Philly food blogs, so I just had to try them. A perfectly flaky and lightly salted dough is wrapped around shredded slow-cooked beef, onions and horseradish. I didn't detect a single bit of horseradish in the pastie I ate, but I did pick up the aroma and taste of cinnamon. And while it wasn't altogether unpleasant, I wasn't sure if it was purposeful. So I liked them, but I was left a little confused.
According to the omnivore side of the table, the best appetizer we tried were the Pilsner brined Hot Wings. They were moist and tender, the way chicken only really gets once it's been brined, then doused in tasty hot sauce that wasn't too sweet or too vinegary, it was just right.
The ALT is a veggie version of the classic BLT. Subbing avocado for the bacon makes this slightly healthier. The addition of a brown sugar and roasted tomato mayonnaise not only keeps the sandwich from falling apart, but also imparts a nice smokey flavor to the whole ordeal making it reminiscent of it's bacon-filled namesake.
Miso marinated tofu is beer battered and fried, then served up with skin-on french fries and vegan tarter sauce for a new veggie-friendly twist on classic British street food. The tofu was decent. I didn't really pick up on the miso flavor, and I thought the tofu should have been pressed of it's moisture a little more, but I would recommend this to those non-meat eaters who enjoy fried foods now and again.
The Memphis Tap Room also makes a traditional version of fish and chips and executes it slightly better than the vegetarian version. Three big portions of white fish are dipped in beer batter and fried to perfection, then nested on a bed of those same yummy skin-on fries. Also accompanying this meal was a scoop of some of the most delicious cole slaw I've ever had. Chopped instead of sliced, it was easier to eat and was a bit on the salty side, while not being too wet with mayonnaise. I loved it.
The winner of the evening was probably this bowl of chili. I scoffed at Karlina when she ordered it, it was late on a muggy Sunday night and I couldn't believe she wanted a bowl of hot chili. Turns out she made a great choice though, this chili wasn't your typical tomato based thick glop. Made with white beans and loads of veggies it's served on top of toasted barley. Topped with jalapenos and a side of tortilla chips for dipping, this is the ultimate in summertime chili.
Trying hard to cater to all the various food restrictions people are tacking on themselves these days, Memphis has both vegan and traditional desserts to offer. The chocolate cake was good, if not a bit dry, but totally respectable for a dessert without animal products. I wasn't a big fan of the pool of opaque liquid it was sitting in, not because it tasted bad, but because I had no idea what it was, and no one seemed to know.
I enjoyed this Key Lime and Coconut Tart a bit more than the cake, it had a buttery crust, and was filled with a smooth and tangy filling, then topped with toasted coconut shavings.
All around, the Memphis Tap Room is a nice addition to the Port Richmond and Philadelphia as a whole. They have a wide selection of food options for everyone, and an impressive selection of draught and bottled beer.
Memphis Tap Room
2331 East Cumberland Street
(Corner of Cumberland and Memphis Streets)
Philadelphia PA 19125