3 stars for beer, bourbon & burgers at Tap 42 in Fort Lauderdale

Sitting in the hip, new Tap 42 Bar and Kitchen, listening to Weezer and sipping a Kona Longboard, it’s hard to believe we’re on the site of Brownie’s, Broward’s oldest bar. Built in 1935, it drew top black entertainers like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington before they became legends. Later, its devoted clientele sipped 50-cent drafts and threw peanuts on the floor.

Ambience: When brothers Sean and Blaise McMackin bought it, Brownie’s was empty and neglected. They had to demolish the historic bar, and took two years to design and build an urban yet down-home space reminiscent of Austin or Asheville. The main wall is made of wood planks from rustic barns, the bar is polished black concrete, and a shimmering backsplash was fashioned from 14,800 pennies. Open two months, Tap 42 has enlivened this less-than-stellar stretch of South Andrews Avenue. There was a two-hour wait on Friday night, with a large overflow crowd partying under a tent in the beer garden.

There’s a small wine selection, but Tap 42 capitalizes on the craft beer movement with 42 draft brews (try a flight of three for $12), plus 42 by the bottle, (Dogfish Raison D’Etre and Monk in the Trunk among them), 42 types of bourbon plus five kinds of (legal) moonshine. (The name of the place is a whimsical reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which 42 is the number from which the meaning of life can be derived.)

What Works

  • Crispy Berkshire pork belly
  • Wild mushroom tostadas
  • Artic char with roasted root vegetables
  • Delicious, ultra cheesy mac & cheese with Cheddar, bacon, crimini mushrooms and perfectly cooked rock shrimp
  • Warm pretzel breadsticks filled with cream cheese, wrapped in sopressata and served with cherry mustard
  • The Three Little Piggy burger – a fat 9oz blend of ground pork and beef, topped with slices of roast pork, country ham, barbecue sauce, bibb lettuce, pickled jalapeño and provolone and a brioche bun
  • A cone of terrific, crunchy fries comes
    Specialty burgers – The Prohibition, The Wild Shroom and The Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner (with a fried egg, ham and cheese)
  • Arctic char blood orange salad – a big slab of  juicy, coral-hued fish plated with a generous mound of mixed greens, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm slices, balls of goat cheese rolled in herbs and a refreshing blood orange vinaigrette
  • A tender 10-ounce skirt steak entree served au jus
  • Brussels sprout hash with grilled onions
  • The mahi mahi club – a 6-ounce plank of fish paired with country ham and pecan-smoked bacon on Texas toast
  • Bourbon pecan pie
  • Sour cream mousse with spiced vanilla and a crumble topping

What Didn’t Work

  • Too sweet cognac-spiked French onion soup



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