Chappys Tap Room and Grille in Moraine breaks the chains

Photo: Chicken and Waffles at Chappys Tap Room and Grille in Moraine; photos: Paula Johnson

By Paula Johnson

I’m a big fan of supporting locally owned, independent restaurants. I remind people often that the chains don’t need your money—locally owned places do. But many diners find comfort in knowing what to expect at a chain. They know what’s on the menu and don’t want to be confronted with the unfamiliar. Have I got a place for those folks: Chappys Tap Room and Grille in Moraine. This is a place that has a menu focusing on grilling, barbecuing, and deep-frying familiar favorites like chains do, but Chappys does it in a way that I applaud. They use a lot of locally sourced meats and vegetables, make much of what they serve in-house, and the smoked barbecue is done over a real charcoal fire. Meat is sourced from Gerber’s Amish Farm Chicken and Zinks Meats, seafood from Foremost, and vegetables from farms such as Brentlinger’s and Holden’s. It’s a casual, comfortable place that satisfies diners who like chains and those who don’t—no small task.

Quite a chap

Chappys has a newer sister restaurant with an expanded menu, Chappys Social House in Washington Village near the Dayton Mall. Most of what’s on the Tap Room’s menu is found there, plus additional offerings. Both restaurants derive their name from the owner’s grandfather. There’s a rambling website page devoted to Chappy’s exploits and adventures. Whether true or not, they embody the spirit of a fun-loving guy you’d want to sit down and have a drink with, especially if you wanted to have a beer. Chappys has a long list of IPAs and even has memberships to several beer club levels available. It was in that spirit PIP (Palate In Progress) and I arrived to relax and sample Chappys’ food.

Tisn’t the season

We began with starters, Chappys Loaded Chips (half order $8.95 or full order $11.95) and BBQ Rib Teaser ($9.95). The ribs were done Memphis-style, sauced, slow-smoked, and clinging to the bone. I found these ribs tasty but would go with less sauce to better taste the smoke. If you are on the saucy side, these will do just fine for you. The Loaded Chips were described as homemade potato chips with melted cheese, bacon, tomato, sour cream, and green onions, and sounded great. I love potato chips and was ready to love these, but here’s where accurate menu descriptions come in. The chips arrived seasoned with some sort of spice flavoring powder, a complete deal breaker for me. PIP loves anything flavored, but I am an absolute purist where chips are concerned and would never have ordered them if the menu had stated there was flavoring. Sadly, PIP would have enjoyed them (he took a taste and verified this) but chips aren’t on his diet.

This wasn’t our only menu misunderstanding. PIP chose the Boneless Pork Chops ($18.95). The menu reads “Charcoal Grilled-Beer Brined-Chicken Fried,” which sounded like three distinct choices of preparation. PIP ordered Charcoal Grilled, assuming they would be plain chops simply grilled. They actually were brined and charcoal grilled (brined in Oatmeal Stout, as we found out later). Sadly, this was not what PIP was expecting and not on his regimen. The chops were fine, though I would have preferred non-brined as well to better taste the meat. What really stood out were the green beans, which came as a side dish. They were the braised Southern style, soft and savory with bits of smoky meat and lots of flavor.

South for my mouth

I went full on Southern with Chicken and Waffles, a homemade vanilla waffle with whipped butter and a choice of spicy Tabasco syrup or regular syrup. (The price ranges from $12.95 to $18.95 depending on number of light or dark pieces.) The chicken was crisp and juicy, and the waffle, fluffy and light, both nicely done. I really liked the heat of the Tabasco syrup, but I would urge Chappys to make it better by using real maple syrup. The mac and cheese had a good creamy body and cheesy flavor, perfect foil for the hot, sweet, and crunchy on the rest of the plate. I would order this again, adding on those Southern-style green beans.

PIP and I concurred that despite the menu misunderstandings, Chappys has a lot going for it. It’s a relaxed place to grab some uncomplicated, well-prepared food in a friendly environment. Beats any chain around by a long shot.

Chappys Tap Room and Grille is located at 2733 W. Alex Bell Rd. in Moraine. For more information, please call 937.299.7427 or visit ChappysTapRoom.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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