Con­cept gets its fill in Boca Raton

The grow­ing restau­rant chain’s pen­chant for ex­cess is pay­ing off by the dish.

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - DINING - By Claire Perez

If a name says it all, then Tap 42 nails it. Sean and Blaise McMackin, brothers and founders of the suc­cess­ful con­cept, rec­og­nized one of the hottest trends in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try: Amer­i­can craft beer. They added a well­con­ceived menu of­fer­ing qual­ity food at palat­able prices and prop­erly trained ser­vice staff to the mix. A hos­pi­tal­ity tri­fecta.

The sib­lings ran with their idea, launch­ing the first lo­ca­tion in 2011 in Fort Laud­erdale. Boca Raton opened in 2015, and fin­ish­ing touches are un­der­way in Co­ral Gables Other forth­com­ing lo­ca­tions are listed on the com­pany’s in­vest­ment site. A solid and ca­pa­ble ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment team of chiefs, VPs and di­rec­tors stand be­hind Tap 42 founders. De­spite their cor­po­rate back­bone, the con­cept man­ages to main­tain a fresh, in­de­pen­dent vibe.

When I vis­ited the Boca lo­ca­tion on a re­cent night, I wan­dered around the out­door space search­ing for the en­trance. It wasn’t clearly vis­i­ble due to the throngs of happy-hour at­ten­dees that made for stand­ing-room-only on a pa­tio that seats more than 100. Maybe it was the free­bie bar bites dis­played, the drink spe­cials or the lat­est tweet an­nounc­ing a new tap that drew the crowds. The din­ing room of­fered a more au­di­ble ex­pe­ri­ence with am­ple seat­ing. The pleas­ant dé­cor is taken from the au courant play­book of re­claimed wood and re­pro vin­tage glass light­ing hang­ing from cloth­cov­ered wire.

Af­ter a chat with our server, we learned he had been with the com­pany for four years. He did not dis­ap­point. In gen­eral, I think ser­vice staff is un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated. It’s a tough job that takes a cer­tain per­son­al­ity. And for that rea­son, I’m call­ing you out. Nice job, Zack.

An over­whelm­ing bar menu of­fers 42 core and ro­tat­ing beers on tap, a bot­tled se­lec­tion, a menu of fa­mil­iar and small-batch bour­bons and whiskeys, a list of hand-crafted cock­tails and lim­ited wines. The blue­berry mar­garita ($11) draws its fla­vor from wild­blue­berry pre­serves. The fruit still came through de­spite a gen­er­ous pour of Pa­tron Re­posado. Ginger lovers will ap­pre­ci­ate the sub­tle back burn of the Mule On Tap ($11), cit­rus-ginger-in­fused Tito’s vodka, lemon and ginger syrup gar­nished with crys­tal­lized ginger, also a stiff pour.

As the din­ing room was just be­gin­ning to fill, our ap­pe­tiz­ers ar­rived quickly. Miso-glazed shishito pep­pers ($7.50), en­hanced by fla­vors from sweet white miso and lemon and a crunch from toasted sesame seeds, would have ben­e­fited from a bit more blis­ter­ing. I could have made a meal out of the ba­con-andsweet-corn gua­camole ($12.50), a sat­is­fy­ing mix of smoky ba­con, charred corn, Cotija cheese and fried gar­lic served with spiced tor­tilla chips.

The grilled chicken av­o­cado salad ($15) made for a lighter meal. A mound of spiced tor­tilla strips sup­port a tower of mixed greens, grilled corn, black beans, av­o­cado, tomato and Manchego cheese, tossed with a cilantro-lime vinai­grette. Oddly, the chicken looked as if it came off a deli slicer rather than an ex­pected grilled breast. Other op­tions in­clude grilled salmon chopped salad ($16.50), ahi tuna poke ($17.50) and golden quinoa “Su­per­food” salad ($13) avail­able with pro­tein add-ons such as grilled chicken, salmon, beef or black­ened mahi mahi ($6-10).

From the “Tap Fa­vorites” cat­e­gory, a grilled salmon Zen bowl ($17.50) is filled with stir-fried green veg­gies — edamame and broc­coli — and pan-fried brown rice fin­ished with toasted sesame seeds. The salmon was grilled to per­fec­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, a to­tal state of con­scious­ness was lost on the salty brown rice, which may have been over­com­pen­sated by the truf­fle miso glaze.

Un­der the same header the beer-braised mus­sel and fries ($15.50) was a fresh ap­proach to the clas­sic shal­lot-and-whitewine French ver­sion. Or­anges and chilies added fiery cit­rus notes, and the chorizo gave the plump mus­sels a hearty ap­peal. A crusty mini baguette was the per­fect sponge to soak up the spicy Funky Bud­dha Florid­ian broth. Parme­san and herbs make for tasty fries. If you are look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle richer, ex­plore the

Tap 42

5050 Town Cen­ter Cir­cle Boca Raton 561-235-5819, Tap42.com Cui­sine: Amer­i­can Cost: Mod­er­ate Hours: Lunch and din­ner daily, bot­tom­less brunch Satur­day and Sun­day Reser­va­tions: Credit cards: Bar: Sound level: Out­side smok­ing: For kids: Wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble: Yes Park­ing: Free lot or $5 valet oven-baked shrimp mac and cheese ($14) or the Fat Tire Am­ber Ale beer-bat­tered fish and chips ($15.50).

Plenty of buzz sur­rounds the Pro­hi­bi­tion Burger ($13.50), and right­fully so. A fla­vor­ful, juicy trio of ground brisket, short rib and chuck was cooked to the de­sired tem­per­a­ture and topped off with white ched­dar, ap­ple­wood ba­con, let­tuce, tomato, onion, di­jon­naise and a “se­cret sauce.” The burger proudly sits on a brioche bun held high with a skew­ered cor­ni­chon. On Mon­day nights, you can snag the burger for $5. Beef al­ter­na­tives in­clude lamb, veg­etable or turkey burg­ers ($13-$14.50). Still want more? Add roasted mush­rooms, a sunny-side-up egg, caramelized onion or smashed av­o­cado for a buck.

To cap off our meal, we or­dered the en­tire dessert menu — all two items. As a dessert per­son, I felt a tad slighted. If you’re go­ing to of­fer just two desserts they should knock your socks off. A warm choco­late chunk bread pud­ding ($10) with a hint of cin­na­mon dressed with salted caramel sauce and vanilla-bean ice cream has all the right el­e­ments. I just wish it wasn’t so dense. Key Lime pie par­fait ($10) with lay­ers of gra­ham cracker crust crumb, dulce de leche and whipped cream, strug­gles to find the bal­anc­ing act be­tween sweet and tart. By the time we left, the din­ing room was full, the pa­tio was quiet, and I still had my socks on.

CLAIRE PEREZ/COUR­TESY

Beer-braised mus­sels at Tap 42 in Boca Raton take a fresh ap­proach to the clas­sic shal­lot-and-white-wine French ver­sion. The dish in­cludes or­anges and chilies that add fiery cit­rus notes. Par­ties over 15 Amer­i­can Ex­press, Dis­cover, MasterCard, Visa Full ser­vice Can get noisy

Yes On re­quest

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