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Flavor on Tap

Flavor on Tap
Photo by Todd Buchanan

A quality beer in the suburbs used to mean the bartender served your Miller Lite really cold, in a freshly chilled frosty mug. But times have changed! You can (and should) upgrade your brew, and the Valley Tap House in Apple Valley is a great place to do it. An added bonus: the food is far superior to that of any suburban bar or grill I’ve eaten at.

Apparently, 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday is not early for the Apple Valley crowd, as we encountered a jam-packed restaurant. It took almost an hour to be seated. Service was efficient, if not overly friendly.

Valley Tap has 30 draft beers to choose from, ranging from local favorites like Surly and Fulton to popular microbrews like Lagunitas, Rogue, and Flying Dog. I loved the Brau Brothers Bancreagie, a tasty Scotch ale. My wife felt the same about the Harriet Divine Oculust, a Belgian-style pale ale that had nice light banana notes.

During happy hour (from 3 to 7 p.m.), appetizers are half-off and beers are 2-for-1. Even if we hadn’t been there in time for the deals, I would have happily paid full price for the flight of sliders: sloppy turkey, pit pork, and black-bean veggie, all decent-sized. We especially liked the pork, which has a great sweet-and-spicy combination.

The hot salty pretzels made my kids happy, while the beer-infused cheddar sauce made me even happier. The strong ale flavor managed to not overpower the yeasty pretzels.

The pub pies sounded more promising than they tasted. The braised beef, carrots, and peas inside were fine, but the puff pastry lacked flavor. Also good but not great is the pork belly on the flatbread pizza. The confit was a little dry, but the sweet bacon and golden-raisin relish gave a nice contrast to the blue cheese.

Valley Tap House highlights their Baltimore-style pit beef (rubbed in spices, slow roasted, sliced-thin), as they should. I am in love with the hot Italian pit sandwich: tender beef, ham, peppers, onions, mozzarella, and a spicy marinara sauce.  

The Lyn-Lake burger is a decadent caloric bomb made of eight ounces of beef topped with thick-cut bacon, a sunny-side-up egg, and mixed greens on a ciabatta bun. It’s messy and delicious.

Even the kids’ menu was great. For $5, my kids got to choose from a slider-sized cheeseburger, grilled chicken breast, or fish and chips; a side of a cup of fruit, small salad, or roasted vegetables; and a dessert.

Valley Tap House is the sister to the Lyndale Tap House in uptown Minneapolis, and the menu is nearly identical, except everything is priced $1 cheaper. As we left, I found myself hoping for a Maple Grove Tap House, in my neck of the woods. Great beer, great food, happy kids: it doesn’t get better than that.

The Valley Tap House, 14889 Florence Trail, Apple Valley, 952-431-2337, thevalleytaphouse.com

Jason Derusha is a reporter for WCCO-TV.

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Nov 11, 2012 05:35 pm
 Posted by  tpknet

We had heard good things about the Valley Tap House. The atmosphere is fun. It is kind of like the inside of a very upscale barn. We tried to get reservations and were told we couldn't get them with no reason offered. We went anyway assuming they didn't take reservations.
The restaurant was busy and we were told it would take an hour. That was fine. We got our beeper and headed to the bar. Trying to get a drink we were chased away from a spot by some rude people but managed to get drinks from a prompt and friendly bar tender.
After over an hour had passed we started inquiring about seating and were repeatedly told that we would be up soon. After two hours had passed we were told we were up next and were even told what table we would get. To our surprise a few minutes later they seated another party at the table we were told we would get. When we asked what was up we were told the other table had reservations. Now we had had enough. The assistant manager addressed us and made excuses instead of apologies. He said "It is Friday night, what do you expect."
We left and probably will not be back until new owners take over the spot. Too bad, I like the idea of an independent restaurant but this place was a major disappointment. We ended up getting very good service and OK food at a chain restaurant next door.
The assistant manager should get the boot. His attitude is going to chase a lot of customers away for good. Also if it is going to be two hours they should be honest. If they told me two hours and seated me in an hour and a half I would be happy, the other way around makes for a bad experience.

Mar 23, 2013 04:22 pm
 Posted by  FlightMed

Have been to the Tap several times. The last time being just that.. THE LAST TIME! I couldn't disagree more with the above review by MN Monthly. I would only have to assume one of two things. They knew you were there (Likely) or you were VERY VERY lucky! As stated above; management here is going to close the doors on this place. Arrogance has no place in the Twin Cities Dining scene. What will the next place bring that holds this coveted space? If you are still thinking about chancing it, just Google some other reviews... You will see the same issues return to customers like an old friend!

Good Luck, Eat!

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