Sherman's Food Adventures: Tap & Barrel Shipyards

Tap & Barrel Shipyards

Sometimes chain restaurants are given a bad rap due to their "mainstream" nature of their operation and menu.  As you already know, I am not food snob.  I appreciate all types of food whether it be a dive or a fine-dining establishment, and that includes chain restaurants.  Let's be real here too, all chain restaurants started off with either one or very few locations.  So suddenly since they expanded and they are no longer good anymore?  Well, I guess that could be true for some, but many do offer compelling eats.  One such chain is Tap & Barrel and I had no problem coming back to my favourite location - Shipyards.

We started off with the Salt & Pepper Wings with a side of buttermilk ranch dip.  This was actually a generous serving of wings that were quite crispy with well-rendered skin.  Despite not looking like it, the meat was actually not overly dry.  Now it wasn't juicy per se, but it was still moist.  There was enough salt that the wings could be eaten without the dip, yet I would've liked more black pepper.  With that being said, I did end up dipping the wings in the creamy ranch.

We couldn't forget about the awesome Famous Fried Pickles with creamy dill dip.  What makes this dish a winner is that they use breading.  The places that use a tempura batter have got it wrong as it isn't crunchy enough to stand up to the wet pickle.  So the crunchy breading was the perfect contrast here as it gave way to a juicy briny pickle.  The creamy dip added a cooling effect to the hot fried pickle.

Now, you know I would order the Southern Fried Chicken Burger with aged white cheddar, arugula, honey cayenne mayo and pickled onions.  This featured a buttermilk fried chicken thigh which was juicy and moist.  The batter was crunchy and stayed like that until the last bite.  This was a pleasant sandwich with good textures, but I found the flavours to be too mild for my own tastes.  If there was more of a kick, this would've been a winner.

Off to another handheld, we had a Tap & Barrel classic in the PB&J Burger consisting of an Angus beef patty, bacon jam, chipotle peanut butter, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo.  Sure, other places have put peanut butter in the burgers, but I find the one here at T&B to be balanced and downright tasty.  That bacon jam provides just enough sweetness and bacon goodness to compliment the spicy and smooth peanut butter.  Such a rich burger, but oh so good.

Now we weren't done yet with the food and continued with the Hand-Stretched Local Wild Mushroom Pizza with arugula, truffle oil, mozzarella and roasted garlic cream.  I've always considered the pizza at T&B to be pretty solid.  They have changed over the years from a flatbread style to a round pizza.  This featured crispy edges and decent charring on the bottom.  Definitely nutty while the dough was nicely salted.  Lots of woodsy aromatics going on.
Lastly, we had the Pesto Chicken Linguine with handmade almond basil pesto, feta, grape tomatoes and garlic shallot cream.  Another winner in my books where the linguine was al dente while the rest of the ample ingredients were on point.  The tomatoes were still vibrant and in one piece being tangy.  The chicken was tender and plentiful.  Finally, the pesto cream was aromatic and flavourful.  Okay maybe it is just me, but I happen to like T&B because the food is more than acceptable while the prices are fair.  Their decor and ambiance is pretty on point too.  This is one chain restaurant that I don't mind going back over and over again.

The Good:
- Above average eats
- Love their dining space
- Fair pricing

The Bad:
- Menu is diverse (much like most chains), but can be more focused and offer more options of each item


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