Put the napkin in your lap and pull up to the table with Eau Claire's Hungry Italian as he provides the area's only true Restaurant Review. Don't have another family night ruined by poor service. Find the perfect spot to take that special online someone on the third date that has romance commingled with value.
EATING ESTABLISHMENT Northern Tap House
DINING DATE Sunday January 5th
MEAL TIME Dinner
ATTENDEES IN PARTY 2 adults
TOTAL BILL - $26
OREDERED Chicken Wings and Mac-n-Cheese Pizza
It’s easy to give-up and make assumptions when it comes to a real estate location. They’re much like trying to get one of those inexpensive solar powered lawn lights to work. When they do, it’s outstanding but too often they’re inconsistent so they end up in the back of the garage rather than keep trying.
There are a handful of restaurant locations in town that have developed that reputation but the Northern Tap House may very well be generating consistent illumination. Located in the building most notable for being the former Outback Steakhouse, this establishment is worthy of a long time stay. After seeing the national steak chain fail (next door to a direct competitor) the spot served first as a quasi- Cracker-Barrel knock-off and then as a “trying way to hard” Mexican place.
Again, not the since the Outback has this placed seemed to find a lane. The Mexican theme (which the same management group operated) received a marketing push and they got a ground swell of support through word of mouth. It was like having your friends constantly pushing you to watch the “Mandalorian” as it always seemed you had two or three people telling you to eat at this place. Yet, it never seemed to be that good and clearly wasn’t successful (the operators hedged their egos by saying the “location” wasn’t good for the theme and that it would re-appear in town but has yet to).
Regardless, this new theme seems perfect. A just large enough open dining concept with booth seats, a central bar, semi-open kitchen and plenty of televisions. Its standard and yet perfect. Upon this visit by the Hungry Italian on a Sunday night, the place had a vibe of “the place to be” while not being loud nor having artificial hype such as an annoying DJ living out their 1990s FM radio fantasy.
The seating was about 85% full with televisions tuned to playoff football and that evenings Golden Globes, though the screens were more background than a focus for the patrons.
This place serves of up sandwiches, appetizers, burgers but also wings and brick-oven pizza and on this trip the Hungry Italian and his guest went that route. The Sunday special was a Mac-N-Cheese pizza so that was ordered along with wings (Garlic Parm). Typically, the Hungry Italian shys away from “entrée pizzas” such as Taco pies because…well..if you want a taco order a freakin Taco! However, when it comes to mac-n-cheese he sees that as being a grey area.
The server seemed straight out of fifth grade arithmetic class. Seemingly very young, shy and a tad awkward but was very attentive, timely and good. Likely new to the job, he did fine refilling sodas and checking on the table.
The food came out quickly with the wings being crispy and covered in a tasty garlic parm.
It was followed by the pizza which was outstanding. A crispy thin-crust with a slight char (which is a good thing) covered with a creamy sauce, cheese and cooked elbow pasta. Each bite was a contrast of al dente noodles, smooth cream and crunch that provided a texture depth that was perfection.
One of the better pizzas served in the Chippewa Valley.
Overall, this place is an outstanding spot and one that hopefully ends the cycle of failures that this location has seen over the last few years.
Absolutely as everything was very yummy in an energetic but not too crowded nor loud environment.
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