Town Hall Tap in South Minneapolis has all the makings of a successful neighborhood pub: a cozy, masculine interior; a unique selection of beer brewed at its parent establishment, Town Hall Brewery; and a menu offering standard pub fare along with few unexpected twists. Even on a Monday night, the dining room is upbeat and energetic, filled with the happy, chaotic sounds of an imbibing crowd.
We started, suitably, with two beer flights: the House Sampler and the Seasonal Sampler. If you have never had the pleasure of a Town Tap beer, a flight of four makes for an excellent introduction. If you’d rather be bold, and make a commitment early, each beer is described very accurately, down to the smallest, thirst-quenching detail.
My advice is to take their word for it: If you don’t want a hint of curry spices in your beer, don’t order the Masala Mama. However, if you adore Indian food, and are in the mood for a wild ride, by all means proceed.
Table favorites that evening were the Wild Berry, which is aptly and absolutely bursting with zingy raspberries; the hardy American Wheat; the light and sweet Maibock; and the Parkway Java Porter.
The porter was so decadent, rich with coffee and chocolate, that my foodie friend and I agreed it was the only beer we could see legitimately served alongside a slice of New York cheesecake. Then again, we’re both unrepentantly un-Kosher Jews, so take that last with a coarse grain of salt.
Tap Pork Wings ($11.95) soon arrived (did I mention we don’t keep kosher?), nestled on a bed of plump, perky French fries. The “wings” are actually bone-in pork shank doused in homemade barbeque sauce. A side of ranch is provided, and though that sounds like it could be a bit much, it actually works wonders as a secondary dipping sauce.
Both the Brie Curds ($6.50) and Pickles ($6.50) are treated similarly, in that they are beer-battered, fried, and served with blackberry jalapeño chutney, although the pickles are slathered with cream cheese before their dip in the deep fryer. The pickles are a little big to be bite-size, but a knife and fork may be required anyway to test the temperature of the first one—the outside breading is not a reliable indicator of the molten interior. The chutney is more fruity than spicy, so Minnesotans need not beware this hobbled jalapeño. The fit-for-foodies brie curds are smaller and more manageable, though the breading might have been improved if it were less thick. They were also quite enjoyable on their own, without the chutney.
We hemmed and hawed about what sandwiches to choose, but thought the Blockbuster ($9.25) just seemed more interesting than the Cuban or the Reuben. Stuffed with brisket, ham, and salami, the already-assertive sandwich also benefits from sautéed onions, pickled Serrano peppers, house mayo, melted provolone, and a little buttery-cheesy something fondly referred to as “tap sauce.” I had to applaud the flavor combination, but this Jew found the brisket to be on the chewy side. Still, outside of Bewiched, Mort’s, or Cecil’s, it’s hard to find a decent juicy brisket sandwich in this town, so I have to give the Blockbuster the praise it’s due. If you’re as fussy about your brisket as I am, plenty of other delights are on the menu.
The Heidelburger ($9.50), for example, is like a little gift from the gods of meat. Surely, in all the pagan history of the world, there had to be at least one toga-wearing, bacon-scented deity, seated just to the right of Bacchus. He or she would likely smile upon the perfectly prepared Heidelburger, in which a half pound of Angus beef is stuffed with onions, and sprinkled with chopped bacon, before being topped with hot, gooey Tillamook smoked cheddar cheese and house mayo. The Heidelburger isn’t fancy-schmancy, and chances are you’ll need an extra napkin or two, but it is because of circumstances precisely like these that it would be impossible for me to keep kosher. Perhaps my imaginary meat god/goddess will grant me dispensation for special occasions. He or she doesn’t even have to grant that many. The Heidelburger may not redefine the burger, but it does redefine “filling.”
All in all, Town Hall Tap is a welcome addition to the flourishing neighborhood. The attraction is primarily its beer list—which is as it should be—but the food offers sufficient reason to linger.
Town Hall Tap
4810 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls.