Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chatham Tap: First Impressions

Mmm. New construction smell. That was my first thought when I popped in last week for dinner at Chatham Tap, the new place just opened on Mass Ave by Scholar's Inn and The Metro. It's nice to have another neighborhood eatery on Mass Ave, but be prepared for what Chatham Tap is -- and isn't. The room is new and clean with a great bar and good beers on tap but the food is average at best. Chatham wants to be an English pub but comes off as English pub lite, or maybe English pub Indiana-style. For flavor, they've decorated the bar over the TV with a few English football scarves. (It's like they said "hey, let's do what MacNivan's does but, you know, English, and without the weird food." What they missed is that the original food is one of the draws of MacNivan's.)

Other than the cute names for things like entrees and sandwiches on the menu (which feels like another MacNivan's rip-off), there wasn't anything particularly English about the food. At least not that I remember (which says something right there.) My salad was from a bag (and not a particularly generous or original large house salad for $8) with a drizzle of dressing from a squeeze bottle. (You'll have to order more on the side.) And if those pizzas were made in-house, they need a new pizza guy. My guess is they were the self-rising dough kind fresh off the restaurant supply truck. Burgers and chicken sandwiches were OK if dry. The best bet looked like the fish and chips.

Service and pricing kinks still need some work. (Some of the prices seemed a little high to me based on what you got and there were a few service snafus.) But it has potential for a good neighborhood bar if you're not looking for a particularly high-end meal although be ready for the prices. Good beers on tap (with bonus points for Bell's Oberon) and a nice bar space. And in that location, they'll do fine. Bonus points for opening in time for football season.

8 comments:

CorrND said...

Boy, if Fish and Chips is the best thing they've got on the menu, they're in trouble. That was what I ordered the one time I was in there and it was MUCH too breaded and the breading was not crisp, almost mushy. I want my fish lightly breaded and crispy. If that's not the English way, well, I don't want it their way.

I agree, the beer selection is very good if English beers are your thing. I'd probably return just to grab a pint and some good conversation. If you like American microbrews, though, MacNiven's is a much better bet on Mass Ave.

scubachef said...

Yeah, I gave it a try last night. Meh. I don't know if it's the too bright lighting or the too-high ceilings, but the place is just not inviting. And compared with the Old Point and MacNivens, I wasn't impressed with the beer selections (no Mackeson's on tap or in bottle, WTF?). I do like that they have a few tables out back (though right next to a dumpster). I wandered downstairs hoping to find a cozy nook or a pool table, but no such luck; it's just storage space.

terrykirts said...

Okay, okay, it's got some bugs, and I forgot that they don't have the Sunday dinner thing until *after* 5 p.m. But the pot roast wasn't bad, and the tomato bisque was about the best soup I've had in recent memory, wonderfully rich and creamy, with bits of either sweet onions or leeks and a nice hit of basil. Someone needs to teach them how to make a fruit crumble however. There's has little or no butter, and the fruit is really dry. Anyway, they're trying, and I think that this place will get better. And I'm sort of glad that it doesn't carry the British thing too far. And I can barely handle the smoke at MacNiven's anymore.

Anonymous said...

When we were there this weekend, our server plopped down at the table next to ours out back and proceeded to trash all of the customers she was waiting on (with another server who was apparently off-duty). That's a huge pet peeve of mine.

P.S. I agree, the menu and decor aren't very inspired. Perhaps it's the newness that keeps this place packed?

Anonymous said...

I really looked forward to this place opening, but now that I've been there three times, I'll just stick with McNiven's or the Mass Ave. Pub.

Jim said...

This place is exactly as I expected it--passable food and a passable beer list. Nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible. A plus is that they are willing to open up early on Saturdays and Sundays for those of us who like to watch soccer, but a minus is that the matches shown are on Fox Soccer Channel, which is a channel that anyone who has a sports package with their cable/satellite can get at home.

Shelly said...

When will these places learn that bag salad mix is NA-ASS-TY! This my be crazy but that is how I judge an eatery. Or at least a big part of it.

Oh- and if you want great fish and chips try Shallos down in Greenwood...ohhhh sooo good!

Anonymous said...

No offense Shelly, but if that is the criteria used to judge restaurants? Your eating in the wrong places to begin with.