’s excellent menu of local microbrews on draft, thoughtfully selected wines by the glass, rocking jukebox and laid-back vibe make it appealing just as a bar. But the Tap is also the city’s first and best “gastropub,” serving up food so good that we go there just to eat. The minimalist blackboard menu describes the offerings in one or two words: Squid, Smelts, Duck Salad. But behind the restrained terminology are exuberant flavors that exemplify the gastro aspect of the pub. Think slowly braised lamb shanks, grilled hanger steak, and the best duck confit in Philly. Bar standards are also solid: The burger is large and juicy, garlicky mussels are perfumed by spicy sausage, and the roast pork sandwich is so moist, it’s best attacked with a fork and knife. The waitstaff is generally good, in a hipster way, and the wood-accented dining rooms are much more pleasant since the smoking ban went into effect. The laissez-faire seating policy can be frustrating during busy times; one finds a table mostly by luck, lurking or pure chutzpah. But we’ll do a little hovering to partake of the Philadelphia equivalent of a Parisian bistro: a casual, comfortable place for quality food and drink.
Pictured: Lamb shank with winter vegetables and tomato ragout
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