Opening Weekend at Henry Street Taproom
— I’m always interested when I see a new pub open up with a focus on craft beer and great food in the Capital District. I didn’t know much about Henry Street Taproom before it opened, but when I saw the chatter on Facebook and after checking out their renovation albums, it looked like the kind of place I wanted to hang. Jon I decided to make the drive up to Saratoga to check it out.
The Taproom is really beautiful. It’s relatively small compared to some of the ginormous bars in the surrounding area (*cough cough* Parting Glass, Saratoga City Tavern) but I think it’s a good size for what they’re trying to do with the space. A wood fireplace with large leather chairs greets you in the left corner with options of regular, high top, stool or bench seating around the rest of the bar. We chose a regular two person table.
The beer menu was pretty solid. While there was nothing on the list that made me go “Holy shit I can’t believe that’s on tap here!” there was also no bullshit filler on the lines, either. Both the Goudenband and the Dark O’ the Moon I ordered were served at Coors Light Stage-2 “Super Cold” temperatures, which left me spending the better part of my time there with my hands wrapped around my glass warming it up to proper drinking temperature. I’ve been assured by their Tri-Valley rep Jared the temps will be fixed soon. There was a beer (Dogfish Head Namaste) on the tap list that was crossed off and unavailable, which normally I wouldn’t have anything to say about, but if it was their second day of business and they were leaving a line empty, there’s really no excuse for that.
As I sipped on Goudenband I perused the rest of the menu. It was separated by beer, food, and cheese with a high school yearbook “superlatives” theme. This was the first time I’d seen a scotch egg on a menu since the fantastic one at Peekskill Brewery back in January so having it was a must, and I ordered the burger as my main as Jon ordered the Taproom (read: French) Dip for his.
Our meal was taking a bit (both tables to our left and right ordered food after us, but received their food before us) so the waitress compensated us with some house-made sweet potato chips. I have my issues with sweet potato finger food being too sugary, often accompanied with honey or melba sauce. These were nothing of the such: thin cut and salty with a slight bit of grease from being freshly fried. They were a great addition to our meal.
I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed in the scotch egg. First off, it was overcooked to the extent that there was no runny yolk at all. The table next to us had two scotch eggs and both of them were properly cooked so it was definitely just the case of accidentally overcooking mine. Secondly, it was missing the breaded, crispy crust that is present in almost every single scotch egg I’ve ever seen or read about, and it detracted from the overall dish. The best part of the scotch egg is the four different textures of the crunchy crust, to the slight give of the sausage, the soft egg white and the runniness of the yolk all intermingling in perfect harmony. I’m sure this is a difficult dish to cook, but this was missing that unique combination.
The burger served on a Mastroianni brothers roll had an absolutely perfect char on the outside that really brought out a great flavor meat, but I ordered it rare and there was only a small portion of the interior of the burger that was even pink. It was too dark to take a picture of the cross-section or I would show you what I mean.
While my experience at the Henry Street Taproom was less than exemplary, it was their opening weekend and for that I’ll give them a lot of leeway while they work the kinks out. And really, the place shows a shit-ton of potential. I don’t see anything on the horizon that points to it becoming a typical trivia night/karaoke night/jenga night frat bar. It’s a very different atmosphere than many of the Bro-tastic Capital District bars out there, and the ambience begs for you to sit down by the fireplace with a nice roasty stout and just enjoy a beer without all of the other bullshit. I plan on doing just that sometime soon.