Last week, when I was staying overnight with the boys, I decided to check out a new bar / restaurant in their town. Actually, the place has been open for almost a year, but Faith hasn’t been, and neither has a coworker of mine, who lives nearby. She, the coworker, encouraged me to be the guinea pig – “go try Tap Rock and let me know what you think.”
When I arrived, there were three men who were up to their elbows in a discussion of beers, beer making, beer selling and beer drinking. I left a few vacant stools between me and them. I don’t know much about beer, other than that I tend to prefer Lagers, but IPAs are all the rage, so I didn’t want to get dragged into that conversation.
I don’t often write reviews of any sort, and restaurant reviews would be low among the reviews I’m capable of offering. If I’m dining alone, I always eat at the bar. If I’m dining with someone, I will try to talk them into eating at the bar. A good bartender is one who does a quick nod-check before putting the second beer on the tab but asks about any beer after that. There are rarely more than two, and usually only if I’m in a hotel. Given that as the criteria, Tap Rock’s service was excellent.
The food menu wasn’t nearly as extensive as the beer menu. Craft beer houses are popping up like dandelions in April around New England, and they seem to be characterized by lots of beer and limited food. I found what sounded like a nice Lager. When I ordered it, the bartender apologized and said: “we only have that in bottles” which I knew, because it was on the menu under “Bottled Beer” but I appreciated the confirmation. It was excellent. He handed me the food menu, and I found something I really liked:
All of their burgers and sandwiches are available in “slider” form. I had a pulled pork slider, a slider-sized crab cake and a bacon-cheddar slider. All three were very tasty and that pacific northwest lager washed them all down easily.
Two of the three men I passed on the way in left, and the third man moved down and sat next to me. We got off to what I thought might be a rough start:
“What are you drinking?”
“Is it any good?”
“Yes, I like it a lot.”
“Next, you should try the …”
I don’t remember what he said, but this is where I got a little nervous.”
“Actually, I’m not big on experimenting. I like this, I think I’m going to have another.”
“A man who knows what he likes, I like that.”
Crisis averted, we started talking and, it turns out that his father and my father were both in the Philippines during World War II. Neither of us knew many details about their service, but we had enough stories to support the order of a second beer. I excused myself for a moment to snap a couple of pictures of some interesting doors. The man asked: “are you involved with doors for a living…are you a decorator?”
“No, I participate in a weekly blog series called Thursday Doors.”
“Really? That’s fascinating. When we were growing up, could you ever have imagined that you’d be sharing photos of doors on the Internet?”
He was about eight years older than me, but we agreed that such an idea in the 60s would have seemed far-fetched.
He asked more questions, so I told him about Norm, the brew master at Thursday Doors Suds & Grub, and how his brew had spread south, east and west (I’m not sure many people are north of Norm) and how it’s almost as popular as IPAs, but how it’s only available in bottles…unless you’re in Montreal where it’s probably available on draft. He asked how he might find more information, so I pointed him to the bar at the brewery, and I explained how it’s open Thursday morning until noon Saturday.
“A bar that opens Thursday at 5:30 am?”
“Well, it’s in Canada.”
“Oh, that explains it.”
“Look for the blue frog, he’ll let you in. You can see all the doors, and add your own if you like.”
The barn doors in the gallery are used to close off a private dining area. A young woman was setting the tables in that room and opened the doors just as I was trying to get my photo. She looked at me with that curious look you would expect from a young woman when some old guy points a camera at her. I explained that I was only trying to photograph the doors. She said: “story of my life, no one wants my picture.” I thought of a hundred things to say, none of which seemed safe.