Scantily clad waitresses serving wings and nachos have vanished from Broadway Avenue. Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, a so-called “breastaurant,” was recently transformed into Tap & Cask.
Diners can still get nachos and wings, but the environment now lends itself to a more upscale dining experience with gastropub fare designed with comfort in mind. And let’s not forget the rotating selection of 36 draft brews.
The main dining room and bar area got a facelift, adding wood accents, a paint job and some comfy semi-circular booths. The most noticeable change is the profusion of flat-screen TVs — 55 of them, to be exact. They’re situated just about everywhere you look, making Tap & Cask an excellent spot to watch hoops during March Madness or the upcoming baseball season.
Dressed in black attire, servers aim to please, even though they hover a little too long at times. One early evening, a friendly, young waitress offered us some food recommendations — a couple of spot-on picks and a few that weren’t quite as good as the descriptions made them sound. She did a good job of plugging the happy hour menu (offered 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close daily), when good deals can be had on drinks and appetizers.
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For starters, she steered us in the direction of the stuffed mushrooms ($5/happy hour), a scorching cast-iron pan containing five button mushrooms brimming with a rich mixture of fennel-tinged Italian sausage and piping-hot cream cheese, topped with Parmesan and buttered breadcrumbs. While this appetizer (served with wedges of toasted garlic bread) isn’t overly exciting, it does exude old-school comfort food.
We were also talked into ordering the fried pickles ($5/happy hour). When it comes to deep-fried pickles, I usually prefer pickle spears more than pickle chips because they tend to be juicer. Tap & Cask favors sliced pickle chips, which were dry and lacked enough brine underneath the crispy breading. They weren’t so bad once dipped in the smoky chipotle ranch dressing, though.
The artichoke dip ($9.95) is a noteworthy pick. A hot ceramic crock came bubbling with a chunky and cheesy dip pocked with marinated artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, scallion, jalapeno and a healthy dose of garlic. Crunchy pita triangles and celery and carrot sticks came on the side for scooping up the flavorful dip.
Our server also suggested we try the Boise Crunch Burger ($10.95), yet I found this flash-fried burger patty — topped with gooey cheddar and bacon strips on a Kaiser-like bun — to be incredibly dry due to its well-done cooking temperature. The burger was served with crispy steak fries and a garnish of sliced red onion, tomato and lettuce.
The menu contains several mainstay soups and a special soup each day. I took the chill off one afternoon with a cup of slightly salty French onion soup ($3.95), topped with croutons and a barely melted slice of Swiss cheese. The velvety tomato bisque ($3.95/cup) is a much better choice, but it’s not offered on a daily basis.
If you have a big appetite, order the fish and chips ($12.95). A pint of Newcastle Brown Ale ($5) played well with this platter of flaky, beer-battered cod dished up with large-cut steak fries, dill pickle tartar sauce, fry sauce and creamy coleslaw flecked with celery seeds.
Other entrées include pasta dishes and hand-cut steaks. I went for the black and blue ribeye ($20.95), a marbled cut of Cajun spice-rubbed beef, situated on a bed of garlicky mashed potatoes next to sautéed veggies, striped with creamy Gorgonzola sauce. The steak came perfectly pink in the center (as requested), but it was hard to cut because of the underlying layer of mashed spuds. It might be better to put the potatoes on the side.
Ordering the Parmesan-crusted chicken ($13.95) will get you a tangle of angel hair pasta bathed in fragrant tomato cream sauce, flanked by crispy, breaded chicken breast strips (tender and juicy on the inside) and garlic toast.
In a city with no shortage of upscale pub concepts, Tap & Cask strives to find its own identity. The place is obviously still in fine-tuning mode, but it’s well on its way to becoming a popular fixture on Broadway Avenue.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tap & Cask
Address: 1555 S. Broadway Ave., Boise
Phone: (208) 338-5458
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Menu price range: appetizers, soups and salads $3.95-$11.95; burgers, sandwiches and entrées $9.95-$20.95.
Libation situation: A rotating selection of 36 craft brews from around the country and a few stalwarts from Europe. There’s also a full-service bar with specialty and classic cocktails, as well as plenty of wines by the glass.
Kid friendly? Yes
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: January 2017