The first time I heard of city tap was a Friday night among friend’s. Eager for a new local spot, I quickly looked up their menu. While I’d call their menu American, it definitely leans more toward American with a twist, like trout sliders and miso glazed salmon. So on a whim, I didn’t feel it was reliable enough to pick for dinner. And the name “City Tap” just reminded me of a leaky public bathroom for some reason.
A couple months later, I focused on an Instagram post about the Harpoon Brewery Alumni Tap Takeover – ten breweries of Harpoon Alumni would be represented at City Tap. First off, I thought this was a really cool gathering of so many delicious local brewers. Second, I didn’t realize how many of the beers I loved were inspired by people who used to work at Harpoon! Ah, Boston, stealing my heart with every home-made craft brew!
So I threw my prior hesitations and public bathroom distaste out the window and drove over to Fort Point; I parked on Summer Street and walked to City Tap (make sure you use the staircases on A Street and Congress if you do this). I walked in and it felt like another Fort Point bar – the big windows of Tavern Road, the wood-panel walls of Chalet, the dim lights of Drink. But it is bigger than all three of those venues, but not as big as Farm House, if that helps you picture it. The venue wrapped in wood and ironwork save of one large 1950s-esque, black-and-white, mural beside the dining room and the three giant TVs behind the bar. Chalkboards sprinkle the walls displaying quotes, event ads, and daily specials. The wood tables and chairs mirror the wood paneling and is complimented by a blacksmith and barn-house décor incorporating pieces such as antique Edison light bulbs and small shrubbery.
I thought it was pretty busy for a rainy Monday after the dinner rush. The bar was full end-to-end and a lot of people were gathered by standing tables in the back, but there were tables open in the dining room area. The atmosphere was casual and inclusive.
Finding a seat at the community table, I ordered a flight of (left to right) Castle Island’s Jetty Sour, Dorchester’s Staple Saison, Exhibit A’s Cat’s Meow and Cambridge Brewing Co.’s Sargent Pepper ($22 with tip).
The community table is my favorite part about City Tap. I know, this sounds cheesy like we’re all going to sit around and break bread over our friendship or something but this ‘community table’ is really just like a high-top extension of the bar that a couple waitresses come around and serve. It seats at least a dozen people comfortably and the idea of being at the bar without having to elbow my way in for a beer or awkwardly avoiding eye contact with the bartender is awesome. The community table also makes this bar good for groups.
While I was soaking up the seen (and the brews), I had some cool conversations with a few people gathered around the community table; definitely shaping up to be a welcoming place, even if you’re alone. While I didn’t dine myself, the patrons who I talked with had no problem sharing that the food was good…but a bit over-priced for what you get. This is important because its remarks like this that I feel differentiate bars from gastropubs. In my opinion, if the foods exotic but not that great and you feel like you’re paying too much, that definitely doesn’t warrant the elevated title of “gastropub.” But that’s just me and City Tap Boston is still new so head Chef AJ Beaulieu still has time to step it up.
As mentioned in my quick-look review of City Tap, this bar is going to be best enjoyed by people working in or visiting the Fort Point area or Seaport district for the day – reliable for a lunch with coworkers or crushing a few craft beers after the days out. Good for sports – but not big games, not enough TVs on enough walls. I wouldn’t go for bunch until its good enough that word of mouth prompts me to go. There is also a large outdoor patio that I look forward to enjoying at this Spring weather heats up!
Breweries represented at City Tap for the Harpoon Alumni included: Dorchester Brewing, Exhibit A Brewery, Blue Hills Brewery, Castle Island Brewing, Barrel House Z, Mystic Brewery, Mayflower Brew, Cambridge Brewing Co., Berkshire Brewing Co., Winter Hill Brewing Company, and of course, Harpoon Brewery.