Bourbon, Burgers and Beer: It should be hard to mess up

Seven-year-old me would have been REALLY excited if there was a store in my town filled with only Voltron action figures, copies of the Beastie Boys 'License to Ill' album and packets of Pop Rocks. Okay…maybe a few Debbie Gibson posters thrown in too.

It would have been perfect; All the things I loved so much in one place, without any extraneous GoBots, nasty Whatchamacallits or Tiffany (no links because they stink).

Twenty-eight years later (yes, I just told you how old I am), I get almost as excited by the burgers, bourbon and beers concept put forward by the recently opened Taphouse 41.

It’s a combo that is all but sure to be great. I mean, how can you mess that one up?!

Well, a couple ways I’m sure. But lucky for us, Taphouse delivers.

For starters, the bourbon list is quite good. If there is a more complete list in town, I don’t know of it. I’m a still-learning fan of bourbon, but seeing the likes of Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, W.L. Weller Special Reserve and Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel is hitting my sweet spot.

Of the short list of cocktails on the menu, I had a Sour 41, made with Evan Williams bourbon and lemon juice, that was quite good. I found the Tennessee Cobbler that Megan ordered (a Dickel bourbon and pineapple juice beverage) to be far too sweet and basically watered-down juice. That said, Megan liked it, so take it for what it’s worth.

The beer list is nice, and on par with what you can get at places around town that cater to the craft beer crowd. There is talk of a often-rotating list, as well as some cask selections to come, so that’s good too.

And finally, the food. A short list of burgers and sides, Taphouse 41 adds another to our city’s group of smaller, cozy restaurants with simple, focused menus. In total: six burgers with some choices of toppings and 10 sides. That’s it.

Again, if that’s the only thing you do, you had better do it right. And our burger (we split it) was wonderful. A Megan creation of the standard burger with Cambozola cheese, an egg and the Dickel Onion Jam, I couldn’t eat it fast enough. And I wanted more. The burger itself was beefy, juicy and had a nice grill/char. The bun substantive yet light. The house-made pickles could have been a dish unto themselves they were so briny-good. And I want that Onion Jam on everything. A high recommend.

The sides were more of a mixed bag for me. Presentation, served in the silver, handled trays, was awesome. The Taters, a tot-style hash/cheese were not my favorite. A bit bland and mushy overall, though the outside was crisped up well. I’ve heard mixed reviews on these, with some friends loving them, some really disliking them. I fall more toward the latter. Not going to be ordering again.

The other two sides, or ‘Other Stuff’ as they are listed on the menu, that we ordered were much better. We both liked the Skillet Brussels, bathed in Parmesan Butter, roasted and served with a bit of lemon juice. The sprouts were a bit big and a mouthful. Because of that, a few seemed on the wrong side of al dente, but they were overall very good. We also liked the tempura-fried Crispy Artichoke dish. Served with a lemon mayo, these were quite tasty.

I’m definitely going back, though with the All Day Cafe right next door, it’ll sometimes be hard to decide between the two.

Maybe the differentiator will be if it’s bourbon time or not?