TAPS Fish House & Brewery Irvine Opening June 8

Ready for brunch!
Ready for brunch!
Anne Marie Panoringan

We recall when the BJ's Brewhouse concept opened a long, long time ago. The full-service alternative to many pizza joints, BJ's was also known for their own brand of beer. An addition of Lazy Dog Cafe at The Market Place offered a dog-friendly vibe, plus another beer-friendly/family-friendly spot. Good times for all.

Call it over-saturation (or maybe they're just supplying the demand?), but now the center plans to welcome one more hoppy tenant next month. Hailing from Brea, TAPS is bringing their good taste 20+ miles south. How excited are we? Enough to sneak into the unfinished restaurant to snoop around.

At 10,000 square feet, the well-allocated space doesn't disappoint. To the far right, a private dining room that seats over 100. Far left is reserved for a cigar-friendly patio, anchored by a California Live Oak. In between, an exhibition kitchen in full view of the dining room. We're digging the massive bar/lounge space, reminiscent of their sister concept in Anaheim, The Catch. But enough about ambiance.

Our impromptu photo op was cut short by Executive Chef Andrew Monterrosa. In exchange for a handshake and smile, he gladly showed us the front of the house; discussion of their menu was a bonus. Influenced from his time at Roy's and the Corona TAPS property, Monterrosa was given permission to get creative with the menu. Knowing his surrounding community, expect some dishes with Asian-inspired flavors. Taking another cue from The Catch, menus will boast a half-dozen tableside preparations. Instead of a tossed salad, opt for the liquid nitrogen sundae for two. You're welcome.

Lovers of wine can rent a locker for an annual fee of $1,000. It comes with a monthly certificate worth $85, designated for wine purchases only. And then there are the beer taps-- all 24 of them. Over half are dedicated to Brewmaster David Huls' lineup of TAPS signature and seasonal tastes. Plus, look for some draft cocktails to shake things up. This is great and all, but we are most looking forward to that brunch!

TAPS Fish House & Brewery will be located at 13390 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, (714) 619-0404; www.tapsfishhouse.com.

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