Proprietor-founder Joe Manzella of TAPS Fish House & Brewery sat down for a meal as executive chef Manny Gonzalez, Tom Hope, director of culinary, and brewmaster Victor Novak took turns offering our luncheon the backstory on some seasonal specials.
Chef Manny reincarnates a fashion plate of vegetables annually (this year's variation includes watermelon radish, cucumbers, fennel, asparagus and baby beets) from a Thomas Jefferson-inspired shaved salad. He maintains a strong relationship with Ingardia Brothers, visiting the facility to check on the quality its components. If you're still wondering how salad relates back to the former president, just look up his Monticello vegetable garden. Delicate and refreshing, it's finished with Maldon sea salt and olive oil. Joe suggests a Bremer Chardonnay as an ideal pairing.
Their crudo-style sashimi is sliced so paper thin, then gently pounded, one can barely tell it's plated. Our next course included Alaskan halibut, albacore tuna, and Skuna Bay salmon. Topped with radish sprouts and petite greens, a flourish of miso-ginger citrus vinaigrette brings out the seafood's flavor.
Is there such a thing as mac-n-cheese with depth? In the case of TAPS, yes. This gastropub skillet of comforting pasta is a result of extra charcuterie "gems" from their cheese and meat boards being mixed in. Jerk pork tenderloin is finished with a reduced red eye espresso glaze. Individually, the sauce and seasoning are hearty. Combined there is a subtle complexity-- making for a rustic, yet not too heavy meal.
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While always a brewery and fish house, TAPS continues to offer progressive selections to North County clientele. The team headed out shortly after to tend to their other venue, The Catch. With over 300 reservations in the books, the Dodger/Angel game would make for a busy Friday night by the Orange Crush.