A day of power shopping at Westfield Center, San Francisco, requires regular breaks for sustenance and rest for weary feet. At TAP 415, retail therapy can be quickly and deliciously interrupted in as little as 20 minutes or as long as a baseball game (i.e. all day). Brought to you by the team that turned 25 Lusk into a downtown drinks with eats destination, TAP 415 serves up American favorites in a casual, open-to-the-mall lay-out. Tall bar stools with seat backs are comfortable enough to invite lingering if not lounging and a chance to view one of the many TVs that line the large room. Twelve mostly local beers and eight wines on tap make it is easy to while away an hour but a carafe of sangria or a house cocktail like the Campari and rye-infused Mulberry Street turn any hour into Happy Hour.
The food, dreamed up by Executive Chef Matthew Dolan and brought to life by Executive Sous Chef David Ramey, mostly sticks to the cannon of classics that are familiar to anyone who has tailgated outside a stadium or attended a Super Bowl party. Beef burgers and bratwurst, beer and cheese soup and mains like chicken schnitzel and grilled albacore tuna are hearty menu staples. Where the food gets playful is the new Happy Hour menu. Served from 3 until 6 PM daily, the small to medium-sized plates are full of surprises. By looks alone, the braised beef slider would not shock anyone. Ramey serves ‘em up big – one slider with a small salad is more than enough for a meal – and the meat, made lush by hours of slow-roasting, was creamy and juicy with just a hint of heat. Crunchy and subtly sweet, a portion of cornmeal battered onion rings arrived piping hot in a thick stack. They made a nice partner for the smoky, vodka-laced oyster shooter.
The duck liver mousse with spiced doughnut was the most exciting dish of the evening. Served promptly after its bath in scalding fat, the doughnut hole, perched atop a ring of mousse, was redolent of coriander and cardamom, its aroma a preview of its warm spiciness and tender crumb. Swab the doughnut into the mousse and the dish takes on another dimension, the fat amplifying the spices and adding a savory metallic twang. You could eat this dish in two bites but then you must order another as soon as humanly possible. It was that good.
TAP 415 is not fancy or luxurious but portions are ample and served promptly. Mall or no mall, this is comfort food done right.
TAP 415 | 845 Market St., 4th floor, under the Dome inside Westfield Center, San Francisco | http://tap415.com/| 415-266-7900