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It’s always game on at Petaluma’s Taps

With several TVs showing sporting events, Taps in Petaluma is a great place to catch a game. JULI LEDERHAUS FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER

JULI LEDERHAUS,

Sometimes all you want is a simple pub-style meal with a good brew. At times like those, Taps is a top choice. But there is more to this restaurant than simply a place to have beer.

Located on the Petaluma River, just across the footbridge from downtown, Taps is ideally suited for people or sports watching, casual dining, and just relaxing.

Taps started out in the Hotel Petaluma in 2009 and subsequently moved to its current location in early 2014. Owned by Eric Lafranchi, it is one of the many independent, locally owned restaurants that make up the fabric of the wonderful restaurant scene in Petaluma.

Whenever we have friends visiting from out of town, this is one of the places we suggest that they visit when touring our charming city center. We like that it is reasonably priced, has consistently good food and an excellent beer menu. There always seems to be a little something for everyone at Taps.

When I visited with Lafranchi, he shared his passion for beer, and some of what he feels makes Taps special. He said Taps primarily draws from independent craft breweries to serve 40 unique craft brews, including a craft root beer on tap. He works with a few distributors but feels that the freshest beer comes from the breweries themselves.

At times, his staff drives to the breweries to pick up kegs, often ones that were kegged the morning they arrive so that they will be at Taps and ready for customers the next day.

Lafranchi also said that Taps hosts different breweries every Thursday where they offer curated limited release kegs and core brands while adding a special food menu created to match those particular beers.

We dined at Taps twice this month to check out the latest on their food and brews. Arriving one extraordinarily hot day, we were pleased to find it pleasantly cool inside, with a sporting event on TV so my husband was quite happy. Taps showcases the NFL Sunday Ticket with most NFL Sunday games on all day.

Looking over the beer list is an interesting exercise because each beer is succinctly and well described. The bartenders will typically let you try a sample of any beer you are considering ordering.

This happened to me recently as I sampled a brew that sounded interesting. It was as delicious as it sounded, and I ordered it. The bartender’s attention to the customers was just right. I was impressed that the beers were at that perfect temperature – cold but not so cold one couldn’t taste the nuances that make craft beer consumption so enjoyable.

We ordered some of their Stage 2 Wings, which were very hot, and we learned our lesson there. The Stage 1 Wings would be sufficiently hot for us, and we cannot even imagine trying the Stage 3 Wings. They were perfectly cooked, just spicier than we like, even though we do enjoy heat. They also have Naked Wings on the menu.

We decided to share a marinated steak caesar, which was stellar. The dressing was delicious and perfectly balanced. The steak was cooked exactly to perfection. It was juicy, tender and flavorful. Made with local little gem lettuce, at only $12.50 this was a terrific bargain, and one that we would decidedly order again and again.

We also shared a lamb burger ($15.95), with garlic fries ($2.25) as one of the offered add-ons. It came on a Panorama bun, and included braised yellow onions, Nicasio Valley Square cheese and arugula. Having something like this on a traditional pub menu is one of the things that makes Taps’ menu stand out. Yes, you can get a great hamburger here, but if you are looking for something different, there are a number of choices to make everyone happy.

When we returned a few weeks later, it was for their Sunday breakfast menu that is served from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. We ordered Niman Ranch Benedict ($12.95), their version of the brunch classic, but made with Niman Ranch dry-cured ham in place of the traditional Canadian bacon. Served on a impressively tall Panorama Bakery English Muffin, with perfectly poached eggs and real Hollandaise sauce, these were simply top notch.

The other entrée we tried was the Steak and Eggs ($13.95). Again, the flat-iron steak was cooked exactly to the temperature ordered. It was juicy and flavorful, and the eggs were also cooked as ordered. It says a lot about a kitchen when things that can be temperamental to cook correctly are done properly. Of course, they should be, but as a chef, I know it is not easy. However, Taps’ kitchen makes it look simple.

To accompany breakfast, we tried their Beermosa made with white ale and mango juice. It was a refreshingly perfect accompaniment to a late breakfast on the deck.

Taps only serves breakfast on Sundays, when they also offer a bottomless mimosa.