Tapping in

Historic charm and good eats in Germantown

By Paula Johnson

Question: What’s a girl to do at a tap house if she’s not a craft beer fan? Answer: Have a cocktail and take a brew aficionado along, which is what I did. Joining me at Mudlick Tap House, nestled in the historic hamlet of Germantown, was DCP pal Sarah, fan of both a cocktail and a good craft beer. It was a frigid Wednesday night, and a cozy and warm tavern was what we were after. Mudlick’s space, formerly a bed and breakfast, Italian restaurant and a bakery, boasts an ambient welcoming charm that immediately lifted our spirits. The rooms are small, intimate and warmly lit.

Artful eating

The bar itself is crowned with a clever suspended light fixture made from vintage bottles. It’s one example of the nice aesthetic touches owner Jennifer Dean along with partner Forrest Williams employed when designing the space. Cocktail lists are presented clipped to reclaimed license plates, and the tables are made from old barrels. When the weather cooperates, Mudlick has a lovely deck area tucked along the building’s side. It’s the perfect spot for an evening drink or their weekend “Boozy Brunch.”

I arrived before Sarah and took a seat at the bar to wait. Owner Dean and her staff were sampling some new wines to enhance the current selection. “We want to broaden and upgrade what we’ve been offering,” she said. Next to me at the tasting was Nathan, usually found behind the bar. You will recognize him as soon as he speaks, with his distinctive Welsh lilt, not to mention his irrepressible personality. With Nathan shaking a cocktail and pouring a draft, this is a fun bar to hang out in!

Spirits smarts

When Sarah arrived, we made our way from the bar to one of the adjacent dining rooms, choosing a corner table after being encouraged to sit wherever we liked by Tiffany, our server. The cocktail list was proffered and with her help, we selected the Twisted Bramble ($9) for me and the Whiskey Buck ($7) for Sarah. We appreciated Tiffany’s depth of knowledge, as she described the Twisted Bramble, talking about how the particular gin used is distilled.

“Three different peels are used, giving it lots of citrus notes, along with a lot of juniper berry,” she said. “And the rosemary is perfect with the Chambord and blackberry soda.” She was right, and Sarah enjoyed her cocktail too, which featured lime and ginger simple syrup.

Go for a dip

In the tradition of the gastropub, Mudlick focuses on a limited menu with nightly specials, sourced locally with everything prepared in house—no frozen jalapeño poppers dumped in the deep fryer here! Dean has recently welcomed new chef Liam Henessy, who has been expanding and tweaking the menu since coming on board in January. There are five appetizers ranging in price from $8-$15. We chose the artichoke dip ($12). It arrived in a steaming hot crock with fresh, thinly sliced baguette. Though I might have wished for some bigger chunks of artichoke, this dip was amazing in its gooey, messy, cheesy goodness. It tasted not of salt and processing, but of honest to goodness real cheese and spinach and artichokes. Yum.

Sandwich strong

The menu has some interesting sandwich offerings including a Grilled Cheese, seared in a skillet with fig jam on wheat bread, and one that almost got me: The Busted B.E.L.T. on ciabatta with smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and a fried egg finished with a charred jalapeño aioli. Then I spotted the Kofta ($10), a combination of ground lamb and ground beef with allspice and fresh parsley, seared and served on a bed of quinoa taboule, tzatziki and feta, wrapped in warm Naan bread. This sandwich was yummy, with the warm soft bread, fresh cucumber and tomato accents, and fragrant, mildly spicy meat. Not your usual bar sandwich to be sure. All sandwiches are served with kettle chips, but I upgraded to the Macaroni and Cheese (an additional $3). Though it didn’t exactly mesh with the Middle Eastern flavor profile of the sandwich, I spied one going by and had to try it. Mudlick’s version with spiral cavatappi pasta and creamy cheese was well worth the up charge and not to be missed.

Sarah was equally pleased with her Pretzel Chicken entree ($13). The chicken was dredged in pretzel coating, pan fried then baked, and served with a generous drizzle of horseradish dijon cream sauce. She agreed that this meal was more than agreeable. But we weren’t done just yet…

Take the cake (and the ice cream)

We finished with Mudlick’s signature dessert: Chocolate Stout Cake ($5). We added on a scoop of Jeni’s splendid creamy Whiskey Walnut ice cream to boot ($6.50 with ice cream), agreeing that was the right move. Moist cake, delicious icing and Jeni’s was the perfect sweet ending. Sarah ordered coffee, declaring it “really good coffee” at first sip. While at first blush we were surprised that a tap house would have a French press coffee of that caliber, it makes sense with the level of quality Mudlick pulled off with everything else we sampled. Bravo!

Mudlick Tap House is located at 3 E. Market St. in Germantown. For more information, please visit mudlicktaphouse.com or call 937.895.4066.

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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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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