On Saturday and Sunday afternoons downtown Tampa turns into a dead zone. This is pretty amazing considering that one can actually walk (unlike most of the rest of this sprawled out city) and there are a number of decent restaurants in close proximity. One of these restaurants is Taps Restaurant Bar and Lounge. I wound up at Taps when I attended a kidney walk to support one of the teacher’s at the Den. This teacher has a failing kidney and will be going through a transplant sometime in the next two months. She felt it was important to walk for the cause and some of her co-workers, students and parents agreed. After the roughly three mile walk, which started and ended in Curtis Hixon Park, and a fifteen minute dance party a number of us were famished and seeking out a place to eat. There were talks of driving here, walking there or possibly tight roping across the bay when I spotted Taps. The place seemed to be just waking up. I perceived this as the place being a total fail (no customers? really?) but my 1985 cell phone couldn’t google map me any other place. It also wouldn’t allow me to check out a review on urbanspoon. By that point the others were ready to proceed so we did it old school style. We walked in without any idea what was going to come our way.
Taps is obviously a beer and wine kind of place. There was an entire wall of wine bottles (that seemed to pour right from the wall) situated right in front of us when we sat down. Their website suggests that they have 60 wines by the glass and 350 fine beers. In Pennsylvania this focus on wine and beer may not bode well for the food but here in Tampa there are a number of places that seem to hold alcohol and food with equal regards. Still, I was a bit skeptical. I continued punching random numbers on my phone hoping to somehow (magically?) access the internet. I sure pissed a lot of people off with wrong numbers during church services on that Sunday.
Taps offers a number of interesting dishes (all seemingly ridiculous in price). Their tapas include a jalapeno and avocado quesadilla, beer queso nachos, smokey guacamole, a bean dip trio and hot pretzels. The pretzel is on the cheap end (5 dollars) while the rest are somewhere around 10 or 11. I thought about the pretzel. Then briefly entered the idea of a smokey guacamole plate but ultimately decided I was more in the mood for a sandwich. While none of the sandwiches were vegan (as is) Taps was willing to accommodate me. I mixed and matched a few sandwiches and came up with roasted vegetables (portobello, red bell peppers, onions and asparagus) on a pressed baguette and topped with White Bean Spread. I dubbed it the Kidney King.
My Kidney King
The sandwich was very good. The white bean spread added a garlicky feel to the assorted vegetables and the pressed baguette was toasted to perfection. Crisp to the touch, but soft and chewy upon first bite. The sandwich had a very fresh feel to it. Considering it cost less than the tapas, I’d say I made the right decision.
I snapped a picture of some of the other dishes that were ordered around me (although I cannot vouch for them because they weren’t meat free). There was the Lemon Roasted Salmon salad which was mixed greens served under artichoke hearts, onions, asparagus, tomatoes and an herb citrus vinaigrette. It was, of course, topped by a piece of salmon.
Lemon Roasted Salmon
Across from me the father of the teacher who is getting a kidney enjoyed a Turkey and Brie.
The Turkey and Brie
Taps is an expensive place (although I didn’t pay for it because the father was so happy that we came out to support his daughter that he footed the bill). For that reason (and its location in the heart of dead downtown Tampa) I can’t see myself going back here too often. Of course, I never saw myself going there in the first place so there is a good possibility that someday, right around the time someone suggests that we tight rope across the bay, that little wine bar on the corner becomes my destination again.
Silver Medallion has just put out a new EP called XANAXLAND. The EP is broken into four tracks and details the band’s “musical journey into a generation of bottle waitresses with masters degrees, fly by night DJs, prozac addled parents misdirecting Adderal rattled daughters into the maze of the nightlife underworld and the greater question of what kind of people will we all be when we finally stumble out of the rabbit hole.” My favorite track is “Hey Cinderella” which, according to Silver Medallion, details that moment when summer ends and all the midwestern girls leave NYC to head back home (their goal of hooking up with a DJ filled) while college bedroom disc jockeys tell their friends they are making out with high school girlfriends to Flosstradamus mixtapes. Shit, just reading the song descriptions makes this album worthwhile.