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Is there a better way to support local business?

When Alli Jarrett bought the space that used to house the legendary Harold Wiesenthal’s clothing store in order to turn it into a restaurant, she wanted to preserve the sense of history, and thus kept the name Harold’s. Last year, the restaurant added a separate bar area downstairs, Harold’s Tap Room, with its own menu and selections of beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. Included on that menu is the choice of ordering a beer or wine flight, a great way to sample the range of options.

I got a chance to visit Harold’s recently during happy hour and sample a flights as well as some of the bar food at the Tap Room.

The beer selection at Harold’s Tap Room is very much locally focused, something that’s become easier to do with the explosion of breweries in the Houston area in the last few years. Beverage manager Chris Rose personally selects the offerings, working with nearby breweries (including a few neighborhood ones just blocks from the restaurant, such as Eureka Heights) to craft a selection that represents a range of what Houston has to offer.

My companions on this outing were hopheads, while I am decidedly boring by comparison, mostly preferring more sessionable beers these days. Rose selected a flight to match each of our palates, all culled from local breweries such as Town in City Brewing Company, Platypus Brewing and Running Walker Brewery. My favorite in my flight was Brazos Valley Brewing’s 7 Spanish Angels, a coffee ale which packed a lot of flavor into a remarkably light and drinkable body.

The wine on tap really impressed me as well. My flight consisted of three reds: The Troublemaker, a blend from Napa Valley that was light and juicy; the Humble Pie cabernet from California’s central coast region, with its big, fruity nose and mouthfeel to match; and the Gran Passone Rosso, a 60 percent merlot red blend from the Piedmont region of Italy, which was a little earthier than the other two and provided a nice counterpoint. Rose is a believer in the tap system, saying that it keeps the wine fresher compared to storing it in bottles. While I’m not a regular wine drinker, I drink enough of it that I feel comfortable saying that Rose was right and these wines tasted much fresher than any I've encountered, so much so that I may head back again simply for that reason.

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Pepperoni pizza from chef Antoine Ware.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bar food, all made with locally sourced ingredients. The margherita pizza was splendid, with a light and crispy crust and fresh mozzarella. Even more impressive, though, were the ham-and-cheese sliders. Chef Antoine Ware makes the ham in-house, and the quality shows; the thinly sliced ham contains the richness, intensity, and flavor-to-surface-area ratio one expects from the best cured meats. Rose’s recommendation of the Town in City amber for pairing set off the sliders well. The Town in City porter I sampled, was also excellent—much more bolder and complex in flavor on the nose than I’ve come to expect from the style. 

While only eight taps are visible out front at the Tap Room, the bar has around 80 in total, as well as a number of can selections. Beyond beer and wine, the bar has liquor and a full cocktail menu. One other specialty of the bar is the frozen whiskey smash, made with Jack Daniels single barrel rye. I’d recommend it if, like me, you used to enjoy a cold margarita but now find them too sweet and prefer something boozier.

All in all, the Tap Room is a pleasantly casual place for the food and drink enthusiast to spend a little time, with the selection of local beers matched by the quality and care put into everything, from the service to the wine system to the food. I look forward to going back sometime. The bar’s one-year anniversary is approaching on May 19, so perhaps I’ll see what they have planned then.

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