Tamp & Tap

A Success In The Making

A little over a week ago, I went to the Tamp & Tap for lunch while working at FedExForum. It was a departure from the usual for me (Flying Saucer, Bardog Tavern, Aldo's Pizza Pies, Second Street Shoppers (when I'm broke) or anything on Beale Street), but I wanted to try something new. With the buzz surrounding the new coffeehouse on Gayoso Ave., I figured it was a good place to satisfy my goal. Unfortunately, I didn't have an online guide to advise me on what to order (unlike my visits to El Gallo Giro), but I believed that I made a good choice nonetheless.

After looking over the menu, I randomly chose The Imperial. It is a sandwich consisting of salmon, cream cheese, capers, tomatoes and one of America's latest "en vogue" vegetables, arugula. The leafy veggie gave the sandwich a bitter kick that coalesced with the flavors of the house cured salmon, chipotle cream cheese and capers. Personally, arugula is either hit or miss with me. Its bitter taste is a turnoff whenever I eat it raw but it isn't too bad when it's cooked (to read about my other arugula experiences, click here). Fortunately, the raw arugula contributed positively to a great tasting sandwich and a memorable experience.

All the sandwiches at Tamp & Tap come with a side item. Initially, I considered getting something typical like potato chips. Instead of that, I went with another vegetable that Americans and the rest of the world are currently craving for. Quinoa (pronounced "kee wah") is (according to Wikipedia) "a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds." Originating in South America, quinoa has become very popular with people (especially with my friends on Pinterest) looking for healthy foods. With me consistently eating cheeseburgers and the like, a staple like red quinoa fell under my radar. Given some of quinoa's benefits are lowering high blood pressure and boosting metabolism, this is something that I really need. Thankfully, the many "pins" of photos on Pinterest swayed me into giving the "pseudocereal" (Wikipedia's term for it) a try. The quinoa is grainy and slightly sweet, which makes it suitable as a topping for many things like sandwiches, salads or even scrambled eggs. With The Imperial, the red quinoa (mixed with almonds) added sweet balance to the tarty sandwich for a well rounded lunch. As much as I like it, any future opportunities to eat quinoa will be rare because of my taste in restaurants. However, I hope more dining establishments add it to their menus for those looking for healthy alternatives.

SIDE NOTE: Quinoa is also kosher. Speaking of that, I want to wish my Jewish friends a Happy Passover.

Overall, my first experience at Tamp & Tap was great, but because of timing and budget constraints (The Imperial is a bit expensive), I didn't get the full "Tamp & Tap" experience. I returned later for both the "Tamp" in the form of a mocha (lattes are also on the menu) and a "Tap" beer from Memphis Made Brewing Company. The "Tamp" was The Tennessean that consisted of white chocolate, caramel and espresso. Forgive me for not being more descriptive (I'm not a "coffee" expert), but I will say that I tasted all the listed ingredients and I liked it. Although I'm not knowledgeable about coffee, I know a few things about beer. That said, Memphis Made's Red Handed really impressed me. The beer is an altbier, Germany's equivalent of a brown ale (described as an amber ale by the brewer). Like its English counterpart, the top-fermenting ale has coffee and caramel flavors (although some might interpret it as chocolate) with little evidence of hops. I believe most will find it very enjoyable to drink, whether at a bar while partying with friends or during dinner. Speaking of that, Memphis Made suggests roast beef, chicken and lamb as complementary with the Red Handed. Also, I believe the "chocolate" ale will go well with a bowl of tarty red quinoa. However or whenever you drink it, I hope you tip your hat to Memphis Made owners Andy Ashby and Drew Barton (the brewmaster) for putting out this excellent beer and others such as the Bent Note (an IPA), Soulful Ginger (a Saison) and Reverberation, a coffee stout made in collaboration with Memphis-based Reverb Coffee Company. I'm sure that the brewery will have a lot success if it keeps on making outstanding beers.
In addition to Memphis Made, Tamp and Tap offers many local beers including those from High Cotton Brewing Company and Wiseacre Brewing. For anyone looking for beer with Memphis flair, Tamp and Tap is the place to go to.
With good food and drinks, Tamp & Tap is an up and coming coffeehouse with great potential. With its rustic d├ęcor and casual atmosphere, just about anyone can feel at home with his/her laptop (using free Wi-Fi) while drinking a T & T brew. The coffee house even has a video game console and board games for those who want to have fun. With such a youth oriented concept, Tamp & Tap seems more suited for a college town than in a downtown neighborhood of a major city. Speaking of colleges, Tamp & Tap is very similar to Nashville's Fido that's located near Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities (where I coincidentally had scrambled eggs with salmon and capers). Comparatively, I can see T & T expanding to the Highland Strip near the University of Memphis and competing with Cafe Eclectic for student-customers. For now, given the coffeehouse's main competition in Downtown Memphis is a nearby Flying Saucer and Starbucks, I believe that Tamp & Tap will carve out its niche and be very successful in the future.

   Tamp & Tap: www.TampAndTap.com
   Memphis Made Brewing: www.MemphisMadeBrewing.com

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