Tapped raises brewpub fare a few notches

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Why: Tapped Brew House & Pub opened for business April 8 in the space once occupied by the now-defunct Applewood. Husband-and-wife-owners Jessica and Phil Fraser say Tapped offers cocktails, craft beer and pub food. The restaurant is a family-friendly casual dining option with an emphasis on alcoholic beverages, many of which pair deliciously with menu selections.

Atmosphere: About 60 percent of the space is open to family dining and 40 percent is bar dining. During the day, the large windows flanking the street side of the space provide stark contrast to the dark palette of the interior. The atmosphere combines industrial space and form with pub elements. Seating consists of booths and tables, and there is seating at the bar as well. Without any sound-absorbing acoustics, Tapped is noisy and better suited for celebratory rather than romantic dining.

What I tried: My dining companion and I started our meal with the Scotch eggs. I decided on the Drunken Shrimp for my entree and my dining companion had the caramelized ribeye. For dessert, we sampled the peach turnovers.

The Scotch eggs dish was a delicious start to our meal. They are made with hardboiled quail eggs surrounded by a mild pork sausage. Instead of a bread crumb coating, which is traditional for this recipe, they were wrapped in a flaky puff pastry. The portion consists of four pieces and is served with a stone ground mustard-balsamic aioli, which compliments every bite.

My dining companion specified medium-rare as his preference for the ribeye and was delighted that it arrived correctly prepared. The meat sat atop green beans doused in a tasty blue cheese bacon sauce in the center of a bed of puréed white beans. A generous portion of halved baby potatoes accompanied the ribeye, and the dish was topped off with blue cheese crumbles.

The foundation of my entree was a thick slice of roasted acorn squash covered with jumbo prawns. Poured over the top was a unique sauce that presented both sweet and tangy flavors, with just a hint of spice that did not increase the intensity of the dish. The sauce was somewhat oily, but it was accompanied by a lightly crisped piece of artisan bread perfect for sopping up the excess oil. Rosemary sprigs were used to garnish the dish and added a touch of fresh herb and aromatic essence to it. Overall, I found the entree a satisfying adventure from the ordinary.

Dessert was not as impressive as the rest of our meal. It consisted of several small doughy turnovers that were filled with peach pieces that reminded me of a canned variety. Petite scoops of vanilla ice cream dotted the turnovers. Chocolate syrup was drizzled around and powdered sugar was sprinkled over the turnovers and ice cream. The dessert was obviously rooted in peach cobbler, but it was not nearly as satisfying.

Highlights beyond what I tried: From the lunch menu, the sautéed caprese salad with basil butter and crispy bread and the peachy pork turnover topped with cherry pepper chutney sounded intriguing, as did the crisp potato skins stuffed with porter-caramelized red onion jam, roasted pears and herb-garlic goat cheese. Dinner choices include duck confit and waffles (duck leg, rosemary confit and sweet potato waffles with root beer demi-glace and cherry peppers), and blackberry pork tenderloin medallions with sweet potato hash and wild berry sauce.

Other observations: It could be said that the ingredients at Tapped are rooted in traditional pub fare, but here they are turned into more complex and flavorful dishes.

I found the waitstaff to be among some of the best I have encountered in Clark County restaurants. The food is interesting and innovative, and the atmosphere is well-suited for a lively evening out.

Cost: On the dinner menu, a cup of soup is $5 and a bowl is $8. Salads are $7 to $15. Small plates cost $7 to $8, and large plates range from $11 to $20. Burgers and sandwiches are $10 to $14. Lunch menu items start at about a dollar less than dinner items and top out at $11.50. Kids menu choices are $5 to $8 and desserts are $8 and $9.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour is 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day of the week.

Where: 2005 S.E. 192nd Ave., Suite 100, Vancouver.

Telephone: 360-844-5491.

Web: tappedbrewhouse.com. Tapped also has a Facebook page.

Health score: Tapped Brew House & Pub has received a pre-opening inspection, which is not scored, and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.