The carrot appetizer at Trailside Tap features chile-lime marinated char-grilled carrots with XO sauce and cilantro.
Writer: Karla Walsh
As proved by other locally owned gems like Lola’s Fine Kitchen, Flavory Bistro and Guadalajara, Ankeny is becoming a dining destination. Each year, more small businesses are bringing new, innovative and totally fresh flavors to the growing north side of the metro.
Delivering on all of those adjectives and more is Trailside Tap (710 S.W. Third St., Ankeny), a casual-yet-classy bar and bistro along the High Trestle Trail. The eatery opened nine months ago, and I’d previously only grabbed takeout—including a to-go cocktail to sample for our 3-Ingredient Cocktail feature—but had yet to dine in. At first bite, I was sure glad I had made the quick 20-minute trip from downtown to meet a friend for dinner.
The Tap is terrific, and it’s oh-so seasonal, too. We swooned over the appetizer simply named tomatoes ($7), and the produce tasted like it was freshly plucked from the garden minutes before. The shareable plate featured a mix of heirloom tomatoes with homemade, goat cheese-like cottage cheese crumbles, cucumber, radish, olive oil and herbs. We also enjoyed the carrots ($6) appetizer: A pile of chile-lime marinated char-grilled carrots with XO sauce (a flavor-bomb Asian condiment that’s rich in umami) and cilantro. To wash it all down, we each cooled off on a humid day with an uber-refreshing Black and Blue Mojito ($9), which showcased Bacardi rum (or your alternate spirit of choice; I chose bourbon), a splash of club soda, plenty of fresh lime atop muddled mint, blackberries and blueberries.
That was all building up to my true, summery highlight: the panzanella ($12). The sizable main dish salad was beautiful balanced and definitely a meal—perfectly toasted bread salad with tomato, cucumber and arugula, all tossed in a lemon-herb vinaigrette. I opted to add chicken for a flavorful protein boost. My dining companion went with the salmon sandwich ($13), grilled salmon on ciabatta, topped with sliced avocado, arugula, tomato, corn relish and green goddess dressing with a side. (She went for skin-on fries. Other side choices include bourbon baked beans, house salad, Caesar salad or country pea salad.)
After we nearly cleaned our plates, our only regret was that we didn’t save room for dessert. Luckily, this makes the perfect excuse to plan a return visit soon, perhaps to check out their brunch menu—and perhaps by bike. ‘Tis the season!
Learn more about Trailside Tap and order online at trailsidetap.com. Stay up to date on specials and events on Instagram @trailside.tap and at.facebook.com/trailsidetap.
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