In the bustling Fulton Market, a restaurant must master many areas of dining in order to thrive. From ambiance and vibe to presentation and taste without a clear mission to accomplish these, a restaurant could very well find its doors closed.
Enter City Tap ( 850 W. Fulton Market; CityTap.com ). When the neighborhood's newest spot officially opened doors on May 22, it brought with it a true gastropub, complete with a spacious and industrial-inspired interior and 48 beers on tap and more in bottles and cans. Walking in on the tail-end of lunchtime, the dining room was more than likely less occupied due to the almost 100-degree weather just outside the air-conditioned room. Despite the heat, the servers welcomed guests with intention, pride and just a little sweat.
Time passed, and the food arrived. Beginning with the burrata and toast made for a cooling alternative to other appetizers. It, of course, came and went as we attacked it with our crunchy and overly toasted baguette. Although the bread could have been taken out of the oven a few minutes earlier, the marinade of veggies, chives and balsamic vinegar that the cheese laid upon saved us from any dry mouths.
The blue-crab mac 'n cheese soon followed. Now, there was some deliberation on whether the blue crab would satisfy us or if it would be a wasted opportunity to serve Chicagoans a delicacy they often aren't exposed it. Thankfully, City Tap did not disappoint when it came to the taste of the blue crabbut what was lacking was the amount of the delicious crustacean. By shredding the crab and incorporating it into the cheese, its large flavor seemed misused.
The star of the show was the torta, easily. With a slight spice and an expertly prepared pork shoulder, the sandwich did not let us leave this establishment empty-bellied or only half-satisfied. For a seemingly true blue gastropub, the diversity of the menu, with the torta and other items like fried rice and the Abe Froman pizza ( which we tried and is solid, if unspectacular ), left the impression that this place isn't just interested in letting their customers come in, dine and leave. Instead, guests might feel inclined to stop back in next time they're in the area rather than heading to Kuma's on the corner or the most expensive Duck Duck Goat across the street. Or even if they're around one of the seven other locations nationwide.
City Tap is reasonably priced for a largely decent payoff. You won't leave hungry or unsatisfied, especially if you get the torta.
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.