Taps Fish House & Brewery - Brea
|I don't find myself in Brea too often. Maybe for work or en route to all points North. It was J's choice, and he wanted a change of scenery. Well, anything outside of our 15 mile radius from home is a stretch. We hopped in the MINI and hightailed up the 57.|
For an extra minute of walking, we avoided the valet line and won an end spot in the lot behind it. The entryway frustrates me with its primary in/out butted up against their host stand. You get a windy draft *and* a line of people all at the same time. After receiving our pager, we plop down on a couch. It is so low to the ground, instead of people watching it's more like calf and shoe watching.
The booth we are brought to not only provided a wide lens view of the main dining room, but we could glimpse into the kitchen and watch the action. Family owned and operated, this 14,000 square foot homage to seafood and brews is the preferred destination for locals expecting service above and beyond the neighboring chains.
They featured a very reasonable 3-course prix fixe for $25. The starter and entree course carried eight options, plus a pint to round it all out. Feeling particularly picky, I decided against it. He was definitely the more interested party. Course one was a seafood ceviche cocktail. A small platter of tortilla chips surrounded a juicy blend of citrus marinated shrimp, scallops and fresh fish. Also in the mix were tomato, cucumber, onion, avocado and cilantro. The sleeper hit of the courses, he cleaned out the ramekin. I found myself trying their namesake salad - bay shrimp, candied pecans, sweet onion and tomato tossed with Green Goddess dressing and butter lettuce. It was a savory, sugary blend I ate with gusto.
I sipped his complimentary glass of 'Gold Winning Cream Ale' between courses. Eric, our server, was quick to recommend this instead of me ordering another. He also saw that our bread & butter needs were met. They use a balsamic dip with the fresh (Krispy Kreme hot light fresh!) loaves, which wasn't to our liking. Creamy butter was swiftly brought out as replacement.
His entree selection was the half rack of barbeque ribs. In addition, he requested the TAPS burger. His preferred entree? 12 ounces of broiled ground chuck with aged cheddar and standard fixins on a potato roll. I experimented with the drunken mahi mahi. Slightly blackened, it's plated adjacent to blue crab tostadas sauced in an tomatillo-avocado salsa and Cotija cheese. The tomato risotto underneath paled in comparison to the rest of the dish, and I only take a few bites. It fills my appetite much quicker than I'd expected.
For the finale, a chocolate (25 minute) souffle is brought to our attention. This is normally the deal breaker with new restaurant reservations. He's 80% more inclined to choose an establishment based on this single item. Chocolate hazelnut creme anglaise, powdered sugar, and fresh whipped cream make it one of the best I've had. I should probably mention that I rarely partake in souffles. It's all him.
Departing on the verge of a food coma, we are fortunate to make time to stroll down Brich Street Promenade. In this hodgepodge of possibilities, we were pleased to report North county houses a winner.
Taps Fish House and Brewery
101 E. Imperial Highway