When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Angels Trumpet Ale House Location: 810 North Second Street Open: Less than a week Eats: Beer and bar bites Price: Between $11 and $30 per person
Downtown got itself a brand new suds-focused bar and restaurant last week.
Located just south of Roosevelt and across the street from FilmBar, Angels Trumpet Ale House, owned by ex-real estate and property managers Mat and Sharry Englehorn, opened last week with 31 frequently rotated craft brews on tap, a 3,000-square-foot patio, and eats from chef Xane Brody.
Highly anticipated by hops-heads and the downtown set alike, the bar and restaurant certainly has the potential to be what its fans desire, but due to some initial hitches -- mainly having to do with the food -- Angels Trumpet Ale House (ATAH) is more toot than blare.
Chef Brody's lunch and dinner menu features snacks, flatbreads, burgers, and sandwiches. The dishes are an eclectic lot, with some descriptions that seem unnecessarily contrived or confusing for those who simply want a snack with their brew like avocado mash (guacamole), "fresh tortilla stuffed with..." (just call it a burrito), and buns (burgers/sandwiches). Even the specials board had a new moniker: Seasonal Callouts.
For starters, three spud tacos ($7.50) are twice the surprise in that they arrive larger than what you might think and are more or less empanadas. Unfortunately, they are filled with more chihuahua cheese than "spud" (sweet potato mash) and roasted corn. And given their greasiness, probably best enjoyed after several beers.
Preparation problems got in the way of The 810 Sandwich ($8.50), made with smoked turkey, peppery bacon, guacamole, pickled red onions, and adobo sauce. Over-toasted bread made for a too-dry housing for ingredients, overcooked bacon didn't help, and too much smokey adobo sauce effectively demolished any other flavors that might be had -- including the pickled red onions, which, like my side of pickled jalapeños, were barely there.
On the Southwestern side, a burrito called The Chet ($8.50), met a similar fate as The 810. Although I loved its spicy chorizo, overcooked fries, too little roasted corn and grilled chile peppers, and an overload of chihuahua cheese and adobo sauce put this classic snack into sub-par territory in a hurry. And it was served lukewarm and the distinct look of something sitting too long under a heat lamp.
Coming through in a big way at the end were ATAH's seasonal "Pop Tarts" ($4), two warm and wonderfully flaky pastries filled with the day's flavor (a lovely mix of strawberry and rhubarb) and topped with a delectably sweet vanilla glaze.
The interior of ATAH has a lot going for it: a sprawling patio, a long bar covered in white tile, and blocky wood tables and chairs surrounded by pleasing green walls and lots of windows. The large single room, concrete floors, and '80s soundtrack, however, make it very loud. On my visit, nearly everyone avoided the center of the restaurant, where tables and chairs were placed very close together, preferring instead to take a seat at the bar or at one of the bistro-type tables by a window.
Thankfully, the craft beer selection at ATAH is, for now, the best reason to stop by. A large chalkboard over the bar spells out a nice collection of rotating brews from national and local favorites to popular ales from around the globe available as single orders or as try-it flights.
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There's still some work to do if Angels Trumpet Ale House wants to become the hangout for craft beers and bar food that downtown residents so desperately want. And as with any new instrument, sometimes the first few notes can come out sour, but with some practice, folks will be humming along to Angels Trumpet in no time.