BEEF BRIEF: Duck Fat Fries, Crab Mac & Cheese Trump the Burger at City Tap House

During our day-to-day adventures, we plow through so many burgs and we fail to share a lot of them here at Burger Days. We think that’s just wrong. So in an effort to spread more beefy goodness, we bring you Beef Briefs, short, brief looks at more of the burgers we take to the face. Where’s the beef? It’s right f**king here. 

The Tap House burger from City Tap House.

We're low maintenance. Really, we are. When it comes to food, if it's fried, has meat or is stuffed with cheese, chances are we'll like it. City Tap House does all three and tosses in a row of TVs and 40 beer lines to boot. Score. But let's be honest, as long as there's a burger on the menu – and it's decent – that's more than enough for us. So, we'll get this out of the way: the Penn Quarter joint's Tap Burger satisfies our requirements – it's a perfectly decent and acceptable beef-and-bread combo – but we were more impressed with the side items we took down during our visit. First up, the burger. The Tap Room advertises its namesake as a half-pound of beef covered in cheddar, topped with agrodolce onions, beer gastrique and served on toasted brioche. Sounds pretty good, right? Yeah, we thought so, too. Unfortunately, we were less enthusiastic with it in real life.
Duck fat fries make everything better.

Duck fat fries make everything better.

It's possible we've been spoiled by the fantastic version of agrodolce onions at 2941 Restaurant because we were let down by Tap House's effort. Maybe it's unfair to compare a brewpub with a fine dining joint but, whatever, we're doing it. The onions on the Tap Burger were nothing like the kind we're used to getting at 2941. Rather than a sweet-and-spicy, luscious, simmered-down pile of goodness, we got chopped up onion chunks with flavor that barely registered. Combined with the other menu highlight, an imperceptible beer gastrique, and instead of a killer entry into our burger black book, it's merely a burger we'd eat again but not go out of the way forIt was no fault of the beef, however (and really, that's the most important part)– that was fine. The patty was cooked to our requested medium rare and was adequately seasoned and juicy. The cheese, too, was on point, enveloping the meat in a warm, melty embrace. And we have to give it up for the bread. The soft, chewy brioche was not unlike a giant potato roll and was one of the better burger buns we've had in long while.
There are few things better than mac and cheese. One of them is crab mac and cheese.

There are few things better than mac and cheese. One of them is crab mac and cheese.

Despite the burger being only satisfactory, the accompanying duck fat fries were dynamite – so much so, that even though we started off with an order of them, we had no trouble finishing the ensuing batch served with our burger. (The truffle aioli on the side only added to the swiftness we devoured these spuds.) Order them. Order them often. Another must-eat is a skillet-full of macaroni and cheese made with jumbo lump crab and fontina, its creamy decadence guaranteeing we won't be fitting into our Speedos anytime soon. While the burger isn't the main draw, the fries, mac and cheese and several dishes we have in our crosshairs for a follow-up visit (ten spice wings, corn and crab hushpuppies, FOIE GRAS FRENCH TOAST) have us seriously considering giving up bathing suit season altogether. City Tap House | 901 9th St NW | DC |

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