Steppin’ Out – Folsom Tap House

FTP-logo-color-background-webWe received a call from the chef at this recently opened restaurant in Folsom, asking us to come by and try the food. That is a great invitation, so I emailed my friend Russ Salazar and a week ago we headed down the hill to do exactly that.

Folsom Tap House, which is located a 25005 Blue Ravine Road – # 140, is in the Raley’s shopping center, just south of East Natomas Street (If you head west on Green Valley Road from El Dorado Hills, you will find it). It is family friendly and open for dinner Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. and for lunch from noon to close on Saturday and Sunday.

We arranged to meet with the Executive Chef, Schawn Wall, around 11:30 a.m., as he and his staff are there four hours before opening to get everything ready.

The door was open, so we walked in. I stuck my head in the kitchen and asked for Mr. Wall. He came out and graciously introduced himself to us and also introduced his Sous Chef, Sean Groark, who remembered me from when he worked at ZacJack Bistro in Cameron Park.

Wall is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco and has been in the restaurant business from a young age. At 23 he had his own restaurant, but more recently was the chef at Back Wine Bar & Bistro, which is in the same shopping center and also owned by Jeff Back.

“The owner gave me a list of about three items he wanted on the menu and left the rest up to me,” said Wall. “I created a small menu of fresh dishes, which means we sometimes run out of an item. We may only have only 30 servings of fresh salmon and we don’t keep more in the freezer.”

While talking with us Wall had Sous Chef Groark the kitchen preparing several dishes for us to try.

Our first dish was Grilled Pears, a specialty salad made with poached and grilled pear halves filled with blue cheese mousse and candied walnuts, served over mixed greens and dressed with a balsamic reduction. It was heavenly. The pear halves were tender yet solid and the blue cheese mousse really paired well with the other tastes.

Next we were treated to their Baja Burger. It comes with Salsa Cruda (fresh salsa they make daily), avocado, jalapenos, sharp cheddar and garlic aioli, on a soft Ciabatta bun.
“Instead of the outstanding Five Dot Beef we usually use, I made it with New Zealand Wagyu, which is an option,” said Wall.

It was delicious and he cut the burger in two in the kitchen and served it cut side down on separate plates. “A lot of people want to split one,” continued Wall, “so we serve it that way. It looks like the other half is in the plate, so we call it our ‘invisaburger.’”

The bun was outstanding and he told us he went through seven different buns before finding this soft Ciabatta bun at Bella Bru.

Our next dish was the Salmon BLT, made with wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon, unbelievably good hickory bacon, spinach and tomato, also on the soft Ciabatta roll.
“You’re going to love this,” said Wall. “The salmon is crispy, but we only cook it to medium rare. The bacon is the best we can find (we both agreed) and complements the salmon.The bacon, like most of our meats, comes from Reeds Gourmet Meat Co.”

Salazar, who is not a great fan of seafood, really liked the salmon. He did leave some on his plate, so I ate it.

A sample of the BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs followed that. They are dry rubbed and served over some really good house slaw. The flavor was excellent and they easily pulled off the bone, but I thought they were a bit dry. Wall brought me a sample of their house-made porter barbecue sauce and just a little bit if it made the ribs shine and did not overpower the taste of the rub. “We like to serve the sauce on the side,” said Wall. “You need to taste the ribs without it first.”

Salazar, on the other hand. liked the ribs without the sauce. “They really don’t need it,” he remarked.

Following that came a small dish of the Watermelon Salad. It contained diced cubes of crunchy, but sweet watermelon, celery leaf, shaved red onions, cilantro, mint and Sierra Nevada goat cheese. It was an interesting combination of flavors: refreshing and delicious. Salazar doesn’t like cilantro, but ate around it. “We will be getting yellow watermelon shortly,” mentioned Wall. “That will add some real color to it.”

Ah, the dessert. It was a Bacon Brownie with vanilla bean ice cream and stout caramel sauce. We each got about one-third of a normal serving and it was just enough. “If you are wondering, the bacon flavor comes from replacing some of the butter in the brownie with bacon fat,” said Wall.

Whatever they do to it, it was a great ending.

Chef Schawn Wall is amazing. He has quite a palate and an imagination to go with it. Every dish arrives at the table looking delicious and tasting wonderful. He calls it “gastro pub” food, I call it outstanding. The entire menu is available to view online at folsomtaphouse.com.

Again, Folsom Tap House is open for dinner Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. and for lunch from noon to close on Saturday and Sunday.

They have a full bar, over two dozen rotating beers on tap and wonderful food. They can be reached at (916) 292-5711.

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