Tap 79 opened about a month ago on the 79th Street Causeway, providing a much-needed local haunt to grab a burger and a few beers. The gastropub, located just west of the first bridge to North Bay Village and the beach, takes over the old Buddha Sushi Bar space and is the younger, more casual brother of wine bar/restaurant Bin No. 18.
Many of chef/owner Alfredo Patino's marks are on the menu, including a fine selection of tablas (three for $21, five for $30, or eight for $40) -- imported European meats and cheeses -- served with artichoke and truffle mousse, fig jam, and olives.
Other Bin No. 18 favorites that made their way north are the clams and chorizo ($12), Brie fundido ($12), and lamb and feta meatballs ($6/$12). The menu, which is still being tweaked (the Mediterranean mussels and kale caesar are being nixed), concentrates on casual dining, as befits a "gastropub" setting. A large focus is on the burgers (made from a blend of Angus short rib, brisket, and chuck), salads, and sandwiches. Some interesting small plates (pub grub) and bar-grub munchies are featured, such as house-cured beef jerky ($6), rosemary-spiked nuts ($4), and spicy rock shrimp ($12).
The beer selection is small enough not to bombard patrons with choices but large enough to provide something for everyone. Offerings on tap rotate, with Bells' Two Hearted Ale, Brooklyn Brown Ale, and New Belgium Fat Tire among the choices over the weekend. Bottled beers are more exotic, with a La Chouffe and a Krombacher Weizen available. All beers (and wine), by the way, are half off during daily "tap hour" from 4 to 7 p.m.
Even though they're called "Jar o' House Made Pickles," they were served on a glass plate. At $4, they're worth a try. Sweet with a spicy finish, they're a good side for your burger.
I had to try the Salmon Scooby Snacks ($8), if only for the awesome name. Salmon bites are breaded, deep-fried, and then drizzled with a slightly sweet ginger marinade. They're a tasty alternative to the usual wings and calamari (though both are available on the menu).
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The Tap 79 Burger, served on toasted brioche, is a huge undertaking. Topped with aged Scottish cheddar and hickory-smoked bacon, it's a good value at $12. Burgers and all sandwiches come with a choice of sides, but get the truffle fries. Perfectly well done for crunch and boasting the right amount of truffle, they're served with a side of spiced ketchup.
Tap 79 is open daily from 3 to 11 p.m. (or later if there's a crowd still enjoying a few beers). A few good weekday specials include half-priced wines on Tuesday, free bubbly for ladies on Wednesday, and half-priced tablas on Thursday.