Wine connoisseurs are called oenophiles. But beer lovers? Well, in the past, those well versed in this brewer’s art have gotten rather short shrift. These days, though, there’s a growing number of places that appeal to beer connoisseurs.
One such pub is the Frisco Tap House — the third incarnation of Frisco Burrito, which moved to Columbia from its original Towson location. In December 2010, owner Adam Carton moved to the latest location on Dobbin Road, where he says he hopes to next add a brewery to the eatery.
Inside there are some 150 seats and a huge bar with 52 rotating taps and two screens that give you the rundown on what beers are available that night, as well as their alcoholic content.
The offerings on this screen, which can be accessed on smartphones at beer.Friscogrille.com, are the stuff of a sudsophile’s dreams. The beers most of us are used to contain about 3.5 percent alcohol. Frisco’s brews, which are pretty much all boutique creations, will provide you with far more of a kick — some up to 10 percent alcohol.
While we’re second to none in our admiration of the brewmaster’s skills, we visited Frisco for the food. We’re happy to report that the kitchen — under the direction of chef David Sloan — offers his and Carton’s takes on Tex-Mex fare done up with a contemporary twist.
At first glance the bill of fare seems rather limited. At second glance you’ll note the multiple variations within the categories.
Appetizers we sampled during our pair of visits included spicy tequila shrimp tapas, mahi-mahi tacos, Gus’ green tacos (at $9.95 each), and chili-infused risotto cakes, at $4.95. All were ample servings, creatively conceived and well prepared.
The lime-infused shrimp in the tequila tapas were large and toothsome, nicely seasoned and served with flour tortillas, salsa fresca and corn salsa.
Little rectangles of tender, flavorful grilled mahi-mahi were featured in both the mahi-mahi tacos and Gus’ green tacos. The former featured a tequila lime sauce. In the latter, the fish had been simmered in a tomatillo sauce enlivened by green chili peppers.
The risotto cakes were somewhat crispy outside and soft inside, and they featured a pleasant peppery glow from ancho and New Mexico red chilies.
From the sandwich section we tried the pulled barbecue chicken sandwich ($9.95). There was plenty of tender chicken in a smoky, well-balanced chipotle sauce. Our taster gave it an eight out of 10 points but would’ve liked it topped with cole slaw.
We also sampled the Santa Fe burger ($7.95), which ranks among the best burgers we’ve tried. Perfectly grilled to medium, the juicy patty was topped by bacon, crumbled bleu cheese and avocado slices on a toasted bun.
“Traditional Fare” at Frisco’s features burritos and quesadillas with myriad variations. The spinach quesadilla ($9.95) — aka Tex-Mex grilled cheese — boasted plenty of melted jack, spinach, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers and more.
Burrito fillings can be beans and rice, chicken, steak, chorizo, even tofu. Our diner opted for the chicken. A gut stuffer, this burrito — tender chicken, black beans and Mexican rice, plus mild chipotle sauce — rolled up in one good-tasting package enhanced by an afterglow of spice.
Among the eight entrée choices are a fajita platter ($13.95 for a chicken and steak combo) and a sesame blackened tuna steak ($14.95).
The sesame blackened tuna steak was a fair size piece of fish patted with sesame seed before being grilled to medium-rare. The kitchen this night forgot to “blacken” it, however, but the tender fin fish turned out to be quite acceptable anyway. The enhancement of a mild chipotle cream sauce and mango black bean salsa were most welcome.
Frisco Tap House, 6695 Dobbin Road, Columbia. 410-312-4907. www.friscogrille.com.