So, I have to admit, this was not my first visit to the new Central City Tap House. I went for lunch once a few months ago. It was a business lunch. And, it was during a super busy time at work, so I didn't have a chance to blog on it. BUT, I only ordered soup and salad that time, so it wasn't even that exciting... FALSE, the soup was delicious, but I guess I will just have to go back and get that again!
Anyway, my sister and brother-in-law, Mallory and Stephen, were traveling through Kalamazoo on the way home to Ohio, and we wanted to have lunch with Paul downtown (since he was working). So, we made a lunch date for Central City Tap House. I knew they would appreciate the creativity of the menu and like the location. Plus, my sister could do a little thrifting while we were downtown.
I was excited to see that there is now an outdoor seating area at the Tap House. Unfortunately, there wasn't a table big enough for our party, but, the room right next to the outdoor seating area now has large doors that open up and make it so you are almost sitting outside. SCORE! I love al fresco dining, even when it is ALMOST al fresco dining. So, we grabbed a table and waited for Paul to finish putting out a fire at work, literally! We were informed that all the domestic beer taps had all been taken over by Shorts Brewery, located in Bellaire, MI. Unfortunately, none of us were feeling the mid-day brew, but there appeared to be a fine variety of Short's beers available including a Coco Wheat Stout that I will have to try sometime.
I was looking for a light lunch option, which was easy to find on this menu. And, for those looking for something a little heartier, there are plenty of options as well. I love this "inspired pub food" trend that is happening now. The idea of taking something like a plain old hamburger or chicken wings or even french fries and making them fancier is one I love.
Sorry, I digress, I ordered the Chicken Brie Green Apple sandwich with a side of the vegetable du jour, which today was asparagus (YUM). The sandwich is a delightful combination of pesto rubbed chicken (love this idea. I've been craving pesto for weeks), with green apples and brie, plus arugula and Dijon mustard. As Paul said, "dear, you love all of those things. This is the perfect sandwich for you!" And, I thought the same thing. BUT, in the first few bites, I have to say, I was a little disappointed. There wasn't nearly as much flavor as I was expecting. I don't want to use the word bland, but that was my first impression. I was getting bites that tasted like sheer brie cheese. Don't get me wrong, I like brie, but I was excited about the combination of all the ingredients. And, it wasn't bad, just not earth shattering like I expected. So, I trudged along to satisfy my growling stomach.
BUT, HOLD ON... when I picked up the second half of my sandwich, I was astonished. It was like it was a completely different sandwich. Somehow, the ingredients on the first half didn't get layered on correctly, or maybe they shifted as I ate it. But, the second half, was bliss. The Dijon mustard hit the arugula in that amazing way that Dijon mustard does. Then, when you layer that amazing combination with the brie and green apples, which is also fantastic as a stand-alone, it blew me away. The pesto and juicy chicken breast is just icing on the cake at this point. And, though the sandwich was hot, it didn't have the greasy, panini-feel that some hot sandwiches do. The bread, which was a multi-grain cibatta I believe, was perfectly toasted and held this sandwich together well.
So, here is where I was say that first impressions, of food at least, are not always correct. I am so glad I stuck it out with this sandwich. I think this might be one of those ones that I crave.
Oh, and the asparagus was a nice side. It was served lightly sauteed in olive oil with garlic and salt and pepper. A healthier choice than their other, delicious sounding, sides. Though, our waitress misheard me and brought me an order of their frites. I was good, I didn't eat very many of them, but I did try them out. They are thin cut, almost fair fries, but way better. Light, crispy, well seasoned. If I were to indulge on an order of fries, I think the Central City Tap House frites would be well worth the calories!
five golden forks out of five.