I have been waiting for the long needed refurbishing of Delaney's Tap Room. As was noted in February, they weren't always on the mark with dinners. Their food has been steadily getting better, with the able guidance of Jeff, the hands-on manager. Still, as I drove by, the exterior looked unkempt. I remembered the tattered booths...
While the bar area, where you can play darts or pool, is rough and unchanged (and I like its feel), the rest has been transformed. All the booths are redone. Interior changes are relatively minor, but everything has a new coat of paint! There's art on the walls. I'm not sure about the corrugated zinc coated steel, rooofing material partitions, but they are trying to be cool. Outside, they have quite a bit of seating. I'm still reluctant to sit out there because I believe it is all designated as a smoking area. Too bad. They could have one end, or a few tables, designated as non-smoking.
On to the food and drink. They have an astounding list of beverages! They have incredible beers and an impressive wine list that any restaurant would be proud of. Some of you may know that Delaney's throws an annual chili cookoff. I wished they served chili... Anyway, the owner seems open to innovation and has an interest in good wine and food. He wants to serve more upscale food far beyond typical bar food. Enter, Jeff. It should be noted that I know Jeff on a casual basis. I have run into him before. One place was Bin 100.
Of the two managers, Jeff has been very involved in the kitchen with helping create new menu items. A blackened tilapia fish sandwich, eggplant rolatini and pork ribs are a few. I sampled one of the ribs and it was not half bad. Slow cooked for many hours, I think most people will find them excellent. I also tried some chipotle in adobo barbeque sauce with my fish sandwich and the rib. This was really good stuff, but just a tad sweet for my liking. Still a very good addition to almost any meat and very unusual. The fish sandwich and sweet, succulent and soft plantains were both very good. These were accompanied by a spicy dressing on the side. This was really good with the plantains even though they didn't need any help..
We had two dinners here since we were attending the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament. SO, on her first outing had the three bean taco salad. I guess they are what they are, but ground taco meat with lots of sour cream and cheese doesn't do it for me (or SO, it turns out). Thank God it didn't have horrid canned black olives in it! Later she said, "What was I thinking?". I would say it is just a notch above average, all American, taco salad. We had a wonderful Crios Malbec and a hoppy ale Jeff recommended with the fish.
The next evening Jeff was off. SO had a blackened chicken sandwich and I had a rare Argentinian ribeye. With this we had eggplant rolatini an wonderful dish of eggplant in a flavorful tomato sauce. Everything was delicious. The side salad was fresh and crisp. I thought the eggplant was on the al dente side of perfection.
The service was good and the prices are very modest. Wine prices are very fair. We eve got our paper-topped table crummed!
I say without hesitation that Delaney's has come a long way. Put aside your reservations or preconceived notions and try it! They are really hitting the mark in most areas and the number of people dining there is proof enough.
Even in the well-worn bar you can get any item on the menu! So come sleazy or greasy to the neighborhood bar and still have wonderful food with wonderful spirits.
Delaney's Tap Room, 882 Whalley Avenue, New Haven, CT 06515, the "Westville area", (203) 397-5494
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