Out to Lunch
by Richard Eber
When venturing into the premises of the Concord Tap House as part of Visit Concord’s Comfort Food Week, I wasn’t expecting much. Normally taste challenged “Bun and Run” cuisine is served by bar owners to fulfill legal obligations set forth by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)
Amazingly one whiff of aromas from the kitchen told a different story. Not only is the food produced by Tap House Owner Chef Keith Burks passable, but it is among the tastiest in town. He has a history in the restaurant business having worked at the iconic Caribbean Zone in San Francisco and owned the Rib Factory in Bethel Island for many years.
With his San Francisco lineage along with time spent living in Mississippi, it has been Burk’s ambition for the Tap House to provide casual Southern comfort food with an Asian flair. This comes from Keith’s wife Cathy who offers several varieties of the Pilipino specialty Lumpia including Shanghai chicken, pork, and vegetarian. They are all crispy and pair well with a slightly sweet red pepper sauce.
Other appetizers served at The Tap House are Southern Fried Chicken Wings, tempura shrimp and the house specialty dots and dashes. They consist of both fried tater tots and small bits of corn fritters. Dipped in hot sauce or Keith’s secret recipe Boss Mustard Sauce, this combination can be addicting.
Naturally, an excellent selection of draft beers is needed to wash down the delicacies prepared by the kitchen. This is where the Tap House’s other owner Tony Fredericks comes in. As an accomplished home brewer, he has put together a selection of 24 Craft beers which is the most diverse this side of Hop Grenade at Todos Santos Square in Concord.
In selecting his collection of draft beers, Fredericks has put a lot of emphasis on local Micro breweries. Epidemic Ales of Concord, Del Cielo from Martinez, and Livermore’s Altamont Beer Works, are among their suppliers. Also worth mentioning is Golden State Ginger Grass Cider brewed in Sebastopol.
Talking about food, if patrons are not content with only appetizers, Chef Keith offers other menu items for his patrons. Most noteworthy is their Portobello mushroom vegetarian sandwich that even meat eaters like. This consists of large slices of grilled mushroom, onions, yellow squash finished with a lemon aioli. It is a little messy with juices oozing on to the plate; but this is a small price to pay for culinary excellence.
Another extraordinary menu choice are the catfish sliders which are fried unbattered catfish bellies. They come on flame roasted buns with Pepper Jack, greens, and pickles underneath. They also offer a Midtown Beef Slider which has cheese, caramelized onions, and greens on the inside. Both dishes come with an order of tots or fries and can be easily shared.
This is not the end of menu. The Tap House also serves juicy burgers which can be ordered from medium rare to well done. Their Chicken marinated dark thigh meat chicken skewers are delicious. As might be expected from an eatery that specializes in Southern food, sliced hot links or German smokes sausages are also part of their offerings.
In addition, if folks don’t desire fried food, the Tap House serves a more than respectable Mid Town Greens salad. It consists of lettuce, red cabbage, pickled onions, celery, carrots sunflower seeds and mandarin orange slices served with a creamy house dressing. Like every dish Chef Keith prepares, his salad blend seems to work.
Being a new establishment, the menu at the Tap House is still a work in progress. New items are being introduced all the time. After the restaurant opened last year and was shut down briefly by a spontaneous kitchen fire, it has been the goal of the two couples who own the business to continually improve what they serve.
It is the desire of Tony and his wife Valerie, who works in putting together the Tap House’s wine menu, to create diverse selections that are fun to experience. Along with Keith and Cathy, they have created a business that reminds one of “Cheers, Where everyone knows your name.” The only difference is that with the Concord Tap House, they also serve quality food to accompany their assortment of craft beers and wines.
In the words of Tony who also runs the bar, “We want The Tap House to be a fun place for us to work and give a shot of energy for mid Concord. Hopefully this attitude will rub off on our guests to make this a place folks want to patronize often.”
Concord Tap House is located at 3513 Clayton Rd.