I'm a huge fan of Irish pubs. I like the crowd, the loud music, the community that they evoke. So when one of my favorite Irish pubs, Fionn Maccool's went out of business, I was disappointed. When an English pub, of all things, took over the space, I was heartbroken. But, recently my husband convinced me to give Chatham Tap a try and I obliged. Our family set out for an early dinner on a Monday night.
Located at 8211 East 116th Street, Fishers, Chatham Tap strives to bring the authentic English pub atmosphere to Indianapolis. Their walls are covered with soccer jerseys for the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, World Cup, and European Championships. Now that Indy has its own soccer team, I suspect they will begin to show the Indy Eleven games as well.
I always loved the interior of the restaurant when it was previously Fionn Maccool's. It has the beautiful woodwork and handcrafted bar that one expects from a European pub. It is dimly lit which is also right for the atmosphere and boasts a small stage in the corner for live music. What I felt was wrong about the interior is the tables. The black tables look cheap and don't match the heavy brown woods of the restaurant.
The pub is family-friendly and also a favorite happy hour spot. Soccer fans can watch the matches that are playing on the big screen above the stage and scattered throughout the bar. The pub features a pretty fireplace and a patio provides more seating outside in warmer weather.
My family visited Chatham Tap the day after Christmas around 5 p.m. so needless to say, it was a very quiet dining room. There were several people seated at the bar, but when we arrived, there were very few diners. We were told we could sit wherever and found a small table that comfortably seated my husband and I, preschool-aged son and infant son.
Our server, Jeff, was great. He greeted us quickly and spent some time explaining the menu. Jeff made sure to highlight Chatham Tap favorites and unique menu items to ensure that we ordered exactly what we wanted. He was very knowledgeable about the way the food was prepared, the ingredients and the flavors. It was also refreshing to see that the employees at Chatham Tap seemed genuinely happy to be there. Jeff shared with us that he'd been there since the doors opened and he loved the laid-back atmosphere and the great people who ran the place. Other employees seemed happy as well. That was a refreshing change.
Chatham Tap is a pub so you would expect the standard pub fare, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Their menu is chocked full of unique and surprising dishes that were obviously carefully considered. The menu includes appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and desserts. Appetizers are not limited at Chatham Tap. There are 13 different starters listed which include some different choices such as Portabella Mushroom Fries, Hummus and Tapenade. Some more familiar favorites include Nachos, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Fried Pickles.
Chatham's entrees are also varied. While you could settle for a Reuben or a fish sandwich, you might be adventurous and try a Smoked Gouda Apple Melt. This sandwich includes thick slices of green apples, topped with melted smoked gouda cheese on a grilled Parisien bread. The Englishman in Italy features Italian meats and cheeses on a Parisien bun. The house specialties at Chatham Tap is of course, Fish and Chips.
The restaurant also features a full selection of specialty burgers and pizzas. One interesting burger is The Smoking Black and Bleu - a Cajun flavored patty covered in Tabasco sauce, bleu cheese crumbles and rasher bacon. For a different twist on pizza, the Lord Byron features feta cheese, lemon zest, mixed peppers, and hummus as the base.Desserts include Brownie Bites and Fruit Crumble, which is fresh fruit topped with a pastry crust.
When I go to a restaurant with the intention of doing a review, I like to select things on the menu that are not my norm. However, at the server's suggestion, we ordered the nachos for an appetizer. He described them as "awesome" and I have to say that I agree. I don't know how else to describe them except as "upscale" nachos. The tortilla chips were fresh and thick. The nachos were covered in a three cheese blend and the homemade guacamole/hummus combo was delicious. In addition, we added jalapenos which were fresh and very hot. Normally with nachos, there are way too many chips and not enough toppings. In this case, we had tons of toppings and by themselves, the nachos could have been a meal. I am a huge fan of nachos and these are probably the best I've ever had. Appetizers range in price from $5.99 to $11.49.
Entrees at Chatham Tap range in price from $6.49 to $11.99. For my entree, I went with the Salmon Sandwich. It is a four ounce piece of salmon, topped with a spring salad mix, gouda, avocado and cilantro sauce, served on a black bean and salsa bread. I haven't had salmon in literally years, so this was a strange choice to me. However, it came recommended by our server as one of the restaurant's best sandwiches. For the side, I went with the hand-breaded onion rings. The sandwich was really good. I expected a stronger flavor from it, but it was subtle and the flavors of the salsa bread, mixed with the gouda and salmon, were a perfect combo. I really enjoyed it. The onion rings were huge and the thick breading was right up my alley.
My husband, always the pizza lover, went with one of Chatham Tap's specialty pizzas. He ordered the Meaty Kuzola - a pepperoni, sausage and rasher bacon extravaganza. The crust was bubbly, hand-tossed and medium thickness. He ordered a large so that he could eat it for several meals since I am not a fan of meaty pizzas. He had it for both lunch and dinner the following day and raved about it. Pizzas range in price from $9.49 to $14.49.
My son ordered off the kid's menu and had the macaroni and cheese. With it, he had the homemade chips. The macaroni was high quality and obviously baked fresh. Of course, being a preschooler, my son doesn't have the palate for gourmet mac and cheese. He also didn't care for the chips. I tasted both and thought they were good, but perhaps we should have ordered something simpler for him. He didn't eat any of it.
Chatham Tap offers a full bar and has two locations - one downtown on Massachusetts Avenue and the Fishers location. Their website is informative. What I like about it is that unlike many restaurant websites, Chatham Tap lists their prices on the online menu and daily drink specials. On Mondays, wine lovers might enjoy the drink special - any glass of wine for $5. Thursdays, all English draft beer is $4.
I enjoyed eating at Chatham Tap. The food was really good. Their menu was full of surprising ingredient combinations and far exceeded my expectations for pub food. The restaurant was cold. I found myself wanting to run back to the car for a coat and it was rather dark inside. While the "feel" of the place was authentic English pub, dark and cold are aspects I could do without. The place was kid-friendly, but I think it would be more enjoyable to go with friends from work or for a nightcap after a date night. If you enjoy good quality food in a pub atmosphere, I highly recommend Chatham Tap.
- Salmon Sandwich
- Meaty Kuzola Pizza
- Great Food
- Quality Ingredients
- Great Prices
- Friendly and Knowledgeable Servers