Since opening two months ago, Angels Trumpet Ale House has gotten rave reviews from beer geeks all over town. With over 30 beers on tap, that's no surprise. On the other hand, the bierhaus has received very mixed feedback for its food. Conceptually, the menu sounds great, although fairly safe. They serve most items you'd expect to eat with beer: flatbread pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, and snacks like a warm sausage platter and crispy angels wings. They even have "TV dinner" specials with elevated comfort food served on kitschy divided trays. But since the place is fairly new, there are still some kinks to work out to achieve balance in the kitchen.
The menu item that's earned the most buzz and pleased the most people is the housemade version of Pop-Tarts. When Chow Bella's own Laura Hahnefeld scored a couple during her first taste, she wrote, "Coming through in a big way at the end were ATAH's seasonal Pop Tarts, 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." With that enticing endorsement, it's clear that these treats are worthy of a second, much closer look. Can Angels Trumpet Ale House offer diners who don't drink beer something worthwhile of a visit?
First, it has to be said that this dessert is a very, very loose interpretation of a Pop-Tart (calling to mind BraveTart's rant against such creations). In fact, the extreme flakiness of the pastry and the soft, gooey glaze on top makes it much closer to a Pillsbury Toaster Strudel. The pastry itself (notably not made in-house) really makes this dessert. Almost any filling could be placed in the middle with a satisfying result. And that's definitely a good thing because the flavors rotate seasonally and can change as often as daily. Right now the pumpkin ginger tart seems to be popular enough to stay on the menu regularly throughout fall. This autumn-inspired filling is definitely good, similar to a good pumpkin pie but a little looser. Yet, this Pop-Tart inspired treat should be called ginger pumpkin, not pumpkin ginger. The pumpkin flavor is mild, whereas the ginger is pretty in-your-face. Over 20 minutes later, after taking care of the bill and walking home, the taste of ginger was still lingering on my tongue. That's probably too much ginger and a clue as to why the pumpkin seemed muted. The filling is also heavy with other spices; cinnamon and nutmeg were bold, but not overpowering. The ginger is the one that needs to be reined in to achieve balance.
To be fair, the first few bites were really good -- really, perfectly delightful. The flaky pastry-to-filling ratio is just right along the edges. Once past that, however, the flavors become too much. There's less filling on the outside edges and more in the middle (even though the edges are open, not crimped), so that accounts for the difference from the beginning to the fourth bite.
One thing about this dessert is confusing: the decorative purple sugar on top. Of course sort of sprinkles are needed to complete the Pop Tart picture, but purple just doesn't go with this flavor combo. That seems like a small complaint; however, visuals definitely do affect taste. Underneath the colorful sugar is a nice simple icing. The thin glaze isn't too sugary and adds a familiar vanilla flavor.
Since Angels Trumpet Ale House is primarily focused on craft beer, it's an interesting idea to pair the Pop Tart with one of the unique offerings on tap. The pumpkin ginger goes well with a malty dark beer, like the Ayinger Celebrator, which is fairly light in flavor -- complementary rather than overpowering -- and has smooth caramel notes that balance out the heavy spice in the tart. But, to return to the original question, should non-hop heads bother with going to ATAH? Yes, but only for the Pop Tarts.