Tap 42 in Fort Lauderdale: Neglectful Service Means Frustrated Diners

Tap 42 boasts one of the most stylish interiors of any restaurant in the area. Walls adorned with blond and brown wood offer textural interplay. A rust-colored old Texaco sign warms the space with nostalgia. Fifteen-thousand pennies serve as a backsplash against a wall of taps that snake down the bar, 42 in all, and serve a rotating selection of craft beers. Scores of industrial light fixtures celebrate the simplicity of the bulb. The completed design illuminates near-obsessive attention to detail.

"I've been a bear for all the designers I've hired," said Blaise McMackin, who co-owns Tap 42 with his brother Sean. A resident of Fort Lauderdale for more than 25 years, Blaise discovered inspiration for the bar in his travels in Austin, Texas, and Asheville, North Carolina, where raw industrial spaces are reimagined as restaurants and lofts. "There's nothing like those spaces here," he told me before Tap 42 opened. He says no restaurant-design professionals in South Florida were literate in creating a minimalist design using reclaimed materials, so he had to do it himself.

If only the rest of the details at Tap 42 were so thoughtful. I've visited nine times over the past two months, and at many points, I could survey the room to see people with empty beers or plates, trying to get someone's attention.

The burgers may be the best in town. The service? Not so much.
The burgers may be the best in town. The service? Not so much.

Location Info

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Tap 42

1411 S. Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Tap 42 fuels our enthusiasm for craft brew by making it the centerpiece of this gastropub, which serves beer-friendly fare such as tacos, sausages, burgers, hearty salads, and robust vegetarian sides. And while the community has met the concept with eagerness, patrons are often greeted by absent and neglectful service and food that's uneven. It's hard to maintain devotion to a place that doesn't reciprocate.

Despite the crowds, bartenders still find time to chat with one another. On one visit, a bartender leaned against the bar, her back to me, twirling her hair, while three of us tried to get her attention for place settings after food had arrived. A room that magnifies noise amplifies the challenge of getting someone's attention.

The food is also inconsistent. A basket of $9.50 Bourbon wings arrives soggy. "Try these," a stranger dares me one night at the bar. "They're not right." He's right. A side of $6 squash and Brussels sprouts was underseasoned and still crunchy. "Where's the caramelization of these vegetables? Were they even cooked?" asked my father. A $12.50 meat and cheese plate offered a weird combination of artisan sopressata, salami, and mortadella paired with blue cheese and bland cheese curds. Condiments and pickled vegetables served as garnishes and accompaniments.

"What are these pickled vegetables?" my father asked the server who delivered the board. A flat pink triangle looked like a beet but tasted like a turnip. "Uh, I don't know," he said. "Make it whatever you want it to be." It didn't occur to him to ask chef Chris Palmer.

"It's infuriating," said my friend Kat about her three visits to Tap 42. A resident of Philadelphia, she and her husband have a house in Lauderdale. She agrees with McMackin's observation that there's nothing like Tap 42 in the area: a gastropub on the south end of Andrews with plenty of parking, an interesting bar menu, and an ambitious beer selection. But the service needs work. "I watched a manager argue with a customer on my third visit," she said. Apparently a couple put their name in for a table. After a half-hour, they checked on their wait time only to learn their name was no longer on the list. Instead of accommodating the customers, an employee told guests they hadn't given their name to the correct person. The couple left, incensed. My friend questioned whether she'll go back.

The strongest service I've experienced was as part of a table of ten just before the holidays. The food was another story. The $7 sweet potato fries arrived ossified. Warm $9.50 pretzel sticks wrapped in sopressata were limp, oozing with cream cheese.

The menu at Tap 42 is definitively meatcentric, as one would expect at a beer bar. It's ironic, since Blaise is vegetarian. "I can't look at the meat in the kitchen," he said after a walk-through before the restaurant opened. This becomes a problem, as one owner can't taste and assess half the menu.

For the most part, it shows — with the exception of terrific nine-ounce burgers. A perfect char, a flavorful blend of meat, and artisanal toppings make for seven varieties. My favorite is the breakfast-lunch-dinner, a decadent combination of burger blend, fried egg, country ham, green tomatoes, and jalapeño cheese sauce for $13. At least the burgers are consistently good, perhaps a contender for the best in town. If they can do one menu item this well, why not all of them?

And then there's the beer. The first night I visited Tap 42, I sat next to a couple of bartenders from other establishments who were enthusiastic about supporting the new place. A bartender from the Briny Pub sitting next to me mentioned that his favorite craft brew at Yard House was more expensive here. Most craft brews hit the $6-to-$11 range. If you're willing to pay the price, there's a plethora of choices, as well as knowledgeable bartenders, if you can get their attention.

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100 comments
soundrablack
soundrablack

I think I will continue to have a bad taste about the service tried to be object but can't find it so beware of who service you

soundrablack
soundrablack

When a server is right and the customers ate wrong the business want last. and then when the manger backs the server then everything's wrong

Jnjunkmail
Jnjunkmail

Really want to like this place but have to agree that shitty service keeps me away after 2 attempts.

Honeybear154
Honeybear154

Tap 42 is run by a bunch of retards. Food is either undercooked or overcooked. Don't waste your time, just go to rok brgr.

Ktrain8403
Ktrain8403

Went with my whole family and was embarrassed for bringing them by the end. Terribly rude wait staff!! Server told my father to clean his own mess!

Sheena
Sheena

This place outright sucks......Food so so, at best, service terrible at best, and way too much hype for nothing, but to hang around a bunch of people that think they are all that. Don't waste your time.

guest
guest

Terrible food and service..Who cares if the place is crowded now? It won't be in 3 months when the doors shut...the "bar crowd" is very finicky and will leave your "cool for now" scene quicker than when they found it.

Cj
Cj

Been there three times and each time the service was terrible and the food was awful. The writer is dead on when he says the bartenders ignore you and talk among themselves. They text on their phones and ignore customers. The chicken wings were so undercooked that they were bloody. Not wanting Salmonelo (sp?) poisoning I sent them back to an unconcerned bartender only to find the "chef" had only re-dropped them in the oil with the sauce on them instead of making me a new batch. When they returned they were awful and I told the Bartender again, who just kinda laughed and shrugged it off. I wanted to punch him in the neck. No one took them off my bill, and me being frustrated and just wanting to leave at this point, I paid for them just to get the hell out of there...Upon another visit they were out of Bud Light! Who runs out of Bud light? Not to mention they were out of many other beers as well. For a place that fancies themselves as having so many different varieties on tap, you'll be lucky to find a handful actually in stock. The service is so bad I will never go back and discourage anyone else from doing so. I meet with a networking group of anywhere from 30-40 people once a week and every time this place comes up as a possible venue someone will undoubtedly shoot it down because they have had a similar experience there.

Save yourself from the bad, overpriced food and beer and terrible service and go somewhere else! There's too many good bars in Ft. Lauderdale to waste your good money and energy here!

Billl
Billl

As a visitor from Colorado where craft beer joints inhabit most crannies of the state, and having checked out a lot of them, it's interesting to see a common problem exsists. Yes craft local beer and they will come but...........

Pogo
Pogo

Was there Thursday night, There was a huge private party going on, but the manager provided our group of a bout 12 people with a table and benches in the corner. We didn't get around to ordering food, just drinks. Our service was great. Our drinks were served right away and I even got a free refill on my coke. Would definitely go back to eat there.

Bobby
Bobby

I went there once in December 2011... the beer selection was awesome and over priced. The food was bad and very over priced.  The service was average.  Neither myself or my date planned to return as just about anywhere else offered much better value.  And we eat out every day.

Jdomar
Jdomar

I really like this place. Myself and friends are young professionals who have been in Lauderdale for several years. Place is a dash pricey but the food was actually quite good and the beer selection was on point. Try the vanilla porter! -Omar

Dan McG
Dan McG

It's amazing how much SPAM has ended up in this comment section. Too funny...

Karla
Karla

Been to Tap this weekend. Thought it was totally cool. Great place. Definitely the hottest place around. Food was really good. Bartenders very helpful. Will be back with more people this weekend. Keep up the good work!!

Avh07c
Avh07c

I have been there twice now--and only a second time to give it another chance. A female bartender that our group delt with smacked lip gloss on in front of our faces while messing with her face and rolling her eyes when trying to charge us for something that the other bartender quoted "We dont charge for that, no restaurant does!". The bar MANAGER was the rudest & most un-hospitible person I have ever delt with in my ENTIRE life. Nice venue, O.K. food, AWFUL service. I NEVER comment on blogs or articles...but this is something people need to know about how paying guests are treated here.

Thebozzman
Thebozzman

WOW---you people are sooooooo jealous of this place!!!   Its the coolest best place in town--thats why its packed. New Times has a hard on for this place cause they are buddies with another restaurant in town. Cheap shots. You people go hang out in some sleazy bar like Melissa McCart does--saw her at Bimini Bay watching XXX hardcore porn videos the other nite. And she reviews restaurants??   Nasty girls should be reviewing nasty bars !!  Rock on Tap !!!!

Very disappointed in service
Very disappointed in service

Interesting that the comments seem consistent regarding food quality and service. I had a similar experience as well. Unfortunately, we couldn't find our waitress when leaving and 60 seconds after we left the credit card receipt and cash tip in the black folder, she was tracking us down for the bill. It was stolen from our table that fast so we had to pay her another $20 tip as a result. (Our table was even the closest to the hostest stand.) Most disappointing part was I pointed it out to management the next day. Their only response: "that happens everywhere". Never happened to me before, except at Tap 42.

luis
luis

I visited this place for the first time this week and I left with a not too impressed taste in my mouth.  We ordered the skirt steak salad and the drunken goat burger.  The burger was great as were the fries, however, the skirt steak had a weird taste and although ok, I woulnd't have it again, ever.Overall, the place is pretty nice, and they have a great beer selection.  However, the quality of the food is decent but not first rate, and the prices are high...this place is too overpriced for my taste.  .  I won't go back anytime soon.

TED ANTHONY INSERRA
TED ANTHONY INSERRA

i work at the Tap, actually some nights on the grill, and some nights working and trouble shooting the floor, i really enjoy it, just have to make sure on which nights i wear a Chef coat or a Sport Coat, we had such great feed-back from everyone this weekend, it is a fun place, that gets really, really {and i mean packed}but everyone is having fun...come on in, make up your own mind,  My good friend Mellisa McCart, who wrote this article, had some valid points, which we have, and are fixing...come on in, ask for me, and i will make sure you are welcomed, and have a groovy time!! thanks,,,

IvanTheSoSo
IvanTheSoSo

WOW!  Who paid you off to flame the hottest new bar in town?  Or are you cluelessly unaware that they've taken the local franchise for best looking crowd packed to the rafters on weekend nights?  Must really hurt some Big Money to arrange something this dirty.

 Do you think we don't know why our food or drinks are late when every square inch of floor space is packed with endless hotties?  You pick at the service like it's the story while ignoring the best looking crowd in town - or more likely they were ignoring you? 

I would not spend another dime on New Times if you have any self respect for what you've done in record time, Tap42.  We've got your back already,

BobbyB
BobbyB

I read your review and decided to check it out friday nite with some friends. The place was absolutely packed. 2 hour wait for a table. We just had drinks at the bar. Service was very good and there were ALOT of hot looking girls there. People we talked to said food was great and service was very good. Your review doesnt seem to accurate.  

AnthonyG
AnthonyG

I went there with a friend a few Wednesday nights ago. I ordered a a burger medium. it came out rare in middle. Jason the waiter took it back and kitchen making a new one. 20 min later, 2nd burger came out. Only one half was medium, one half was medium well!! It's like they didn't have all burners at same temperature. Staff seemed more interested in picking up dates (guests), texting, on their phones, or talking among themselves. As an owner, you can't taste ur own menu? Idiot. I give you less than a year before folding up, unless you correct issues.

richyoung
richyoung

Have never been there, but won't waste my time after such a review.  I can get bad service much closer to home.

Gregrocker
Gregrocker

Nice afternoon lunch atmosphere on the patio.  I stop by on my way from Snyder Lake with our Lab Monte who also loves the place.  The food is always scrumptious and filling, the beers are an adventure in themselves.

Josh
Josh

I dont like food critics---they are a bunch of prima donna's. I am going to check this place out because you bashed them. I hear the place is slamming, so its obviously not that bad.

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Ktrain8403 again when the staff is more important then the customers there's a problem

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Cj seems that the problem maybe they care more for staff then the customers who by the way can spend their dollars anywhere

TED ANTHONY INSERRA
TED ANTHONY INSERRA

if you come in friday night , i will be working the "floor", ask for me and i will make sure you have a good time again!! thanks for coming in, see you this weekend!!

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Avh07c I get you and I live in the area

TED ANTHONY INSERRA
TED ANTHONY INSERRA

i will be on the floor thurs and friday night, come find me, i will show you how great we can be!

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Thebozzman wait you'll have that experience and you too will be shocked

soundrablack
soundrablack

@IvanTheSoSo my experience doesn't mean it was yours I actually want them to win I just never agree with putting a employees feelings over a customers

soundrablack
soundrablack

@IvanTheSoSo new at this blogging but will tell you always aware of how hard servers work but you can't buy a customers but always hire staff

soundrablack
soundrablack

@BobbyB good I am glad they do have a great ideal

soundrablack
soundrablack

@BobbyB good glad it was a good time great people behind bar and some who don't want to be there maybe anywhere. But there's a motto about doing business and being in business will see where they go

TED ANTHONY INSERRA
TED ANTHONY INSERRA

thanks Bobby, i was working the floor that night, i think i talked to everyone, all i got was good feed back, and if any problems, i was able to solve on the spot, next time you come in, find me, and a drink on me!!!

soundrablack
soundrablack

@richyoung please don't do that Andrews needs new blood

TED ANTHONY INSERRA
TED ANTHONY INSERRA

we love dogs at The Tap, i think i remember Monte, i have a Golden Retriever and a huge Golden Doodle who also love the patio! see you soon.

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Josh and so you should not a food critic just a patron

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Josh and so you should I can't say enough nice about concept or owners but whom ever is in charge of hiring is missing the mark

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Josh you should they just need to edit their hiring

soundrablack
soundrablack

@Josh sorry didn't mean to bash them just beware

TED ANTHONY INSERRA
TED ANTHONY INSERRA

very true Josh, thanks for having enough sence to decide for yourself, when you come in, ask for me, i will make sure you are well taken care of.

richyoung
richyoung

For the atmosphere and beer, it may be worth a stop.  But I won't get any food.

soundrablack
soundrablack

@TED ANTHONY INSERRA funny I was a local customer until sat night when a bartender clearly didn't want to be there had the floor manager ask me to leave because she felt uncomfortable so no after 100's of dollars I spent there I want be back

soundrablack
soundrablack

Who do you represent? Seems unless there's a opportunity you don't respond. I am no one.I will not make or brake you. However I only see response to those who are more positive; shouldn't they be to the ones that might have had a negative taste?

 
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