Taps Fish House and Brewery
101 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821
Hard to believe, but this will be our first restaurant we have reviewed in Brea. A few reviews back I lamented the fact that there were some cities in OC that we have not made it to. Eight to be exact. Don't worry La Palma, we are on our way to see what you have to offer culinary wise.
For now though, we can finally cross Brea off of our list. This is really crazy to me, because when I was growing up in Yorba Linda in the early to mid 80's, Brea was the city we went to a lot for dinner. There were very limited dining choices in Yorba Linda. Some might say that is still the case, but that is a topic for another post.
Back then Brea had the new two story mall. We made way fewer trips to the one story, Orange Mall. Dining options in Brea were numerous too. They had a large food court, a Bobby McGee's, and a Big Yellow House, which was a chicken restaurant, where they weighed the kids upon entering and that determined how much you would pay. I also liked drinking out of the mason jars, very cool.
Okay, getting a little off track now with all of this nostalgia. Flash forward to today, and of course everything is a little more built up around here. The city of Brea has done some great things to their downtown area. Houses are being restored, new hip restaurants are moving in, and they are attracting people from outside the city with their movie theaters and comedy clubs.
One of the first business's to have the foresight of what was to come is Taps. They opened way back in 1999, when the revitalization of Downtown Brea had just gotten going. It must have been a roll of the dice to open a seafood restaurant in landlocked Brea, but it is a gamble that has seemed to payoff. They now have another Taps, even farther from the ocean, in Corona. Let's see what the food is like in this stalwart of Brea restaurants.
After being seated for lunch, we were brought this quarter loaf of warm Sourdough Bread. Accompanied by an olive oil dip, this bread was very good, and did not stand a chance. First, my Mom and I were both hungry, and second, it was very good bread. Chewy crust, while being soft on the inside. Solid sourdough flavor throughout.
After a little lag in the action our appetizer came out. Not sure what they call this because I forgot to write down the name, and it is not on their on-line menu. This was a fried potato skin topped with crab, asparagus, Bearnaise sauce, and bacon. Kind of like an, "Oscar", style potato skin. This well put together appetizer had great crab flavor, while the crunchiness and saltiness of the bacon really popped here. The potato was fried perfectly, but the $14 price tag for three potato skins was a little over the top.
My Mom was not feeling seafood on this trip to Taps, so she went with the interesting named B.L.A.T.T. Sandwich. This sandwich combined bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and turkey, with mayo substituted for the normal Green Goddess dressing that usually goes on this. She was way happy with this sandwich. Lots of turkey, and bread that was soft and still held the contents of the sandwich, without being toasted were some of the highlights for Mom with this sandwich.
Of course I was not going to let this opportunity go by without trying some seafood, so I went with the Maine Lobster and Shrimp Roll. Shrimp and lobster are tossed with a lemon creme fraiche aioli, and then put in an authentic New England style roll. This needed a little something extra. The lobster and shrimp were good, but of course they could have used a little more to fill out the bun, and make this sandwich less bready. The lemon was not too noticeable here, which actually helped make the seafood the star of this sandwich, like it should be. The truffle potato chips that came with this were very good, and not overpowered by truffle. The Cole slaw was very subdued here.
We got to Taps on a Monday at noon, after another restaurant we wanted to try was closed. Taps was not busy at all, so we did not have to wait for a table. The atmosphere here was that of an upscale seafood restaurant, without the stuffiness that usually comes along with places like this. Some businessman filled in the comfortable booths around us, but they never got that lunch rush. Service was very professional. The food lagged a little bit being brought from the kitchen, but that lended to the leisurely vibe of this restaurant. Prices were okay for a seafood restaurant, that is not named Red Lobster. My sandwich was $15, while my Mom's turkey sandwich was $11. If Taps is any indication about how good the restaurants are in Brea, we will have to come back real soon.
Out of five barrels of tar, (because the Spanish word brea translates to the word tar, hearkening back to Brea's days as an oil town), five being best to zero being worst, Taps Fish House and Brewery gets 3.5 barrels of tar.
For more information about Taps Fish House and Brewery, click here: http://www.tapsfishhouse.com/brea/