Wednesday, June 16, 2010

station taproom dashes into downingtown

After manning a bustling bar and restaurant for a recent Friday evening shift at the newly opened Station Taproom, co-owners Mark Barthmaier and Sean McGettigan each enjoyed a bottle of Sam Adams' Utopias with close friends.

The sampling was their pleasure — something you would assume two local beer connoisseurs who just opened a handsome beer-centric pub would do on their downtime. The vintage Utopias, considered as the “holy grail” to those hop-obsessed, trot 27 percent alcohol by volume and are comparable to a port or a cognac, McGettigan said.

Don't know if you can consider it a beer at that point,” said Barthmaier. “It does have a lot of flavor and a lot of burn.” 
Together the managing duo — who previously worked side-by-side at The Drafting Room of Exton— maintain a hefty knowledge of beer and brands, as achieved through each personally tasting many hopped pleasures. Such experience and knowledge shaped Station Taproom's beer menu.

We have a good rotation here of a wide spectrum of beers to drink,” said McGettigan of their five-week-old Station Taproom, which is situated directly across from Downingtown's Train Station. With 12 beer taps, in addition to a decent-sized bottle list, the knowledgeable partners are constantly introducing new varieties to their lineup, immediately as a keg kicks.

Draft beer is always the way to go,” said McGettigan. “It allows you to test drive before purchasing a pint.”

Open to allowing guests' tasters of any of their offerings, Station Taproom spouts are currently pouring Victory Brewery's Donnybrook Stout, Gaffel Becker & Co.'s Kolsh, Lake Placid's 46'er Pale Ale, Bear Republic's Apex and the Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel— to name a few. You have to visit or look them up online to see what the bar is serving though, as draft selections are constantly changing.

Not only are McGettigan and Barthmaier “beer guys,” they also are “food guys” at heart. Providing patrons with an eclectic and upscale interpretation of pub-styled fare, as perfected by their chef, Tim Smith, the fresh gastronomic eatery provides well-groomed, snack-sized to entree-sized plates. 

The menu lists an array of Cuban and Caprese paninis, truffle fries, steamed mussels, buffalo wings, fish and chips, minted lamb or curried chickpea burgers, and mac 'n cheese, the resident chef and the owning partners both insist that their Thai Red Curry— served as an entree, with wings or with mussels— is their best dish.
Chef Tim Smith, a native of England, transcends his skilled, traditional flair into the gastropub's grub, while still encompassing the best of local ingredients that would go swimmingly with craft beers. Before answering Station Taproom's ad on Craigslist and deliciously passing their interviewing process, Smith worked in Rochester, New York at a similar beer bar, The Old Toad

“I'm lucky to work in a place very similar to where I had was previously working. There are similarities in both places, it's a perfect challenge,” he said.

We love that we didn't have to make our chef love beer, he already enjoys beer like we do,” said McGettigan. “That is a huge thing for us.”

The establishment's forward-thinking team is additionally motivated, as their menu scribes to, “wherever possible, use fresh and local ingredients.” Lucky to be located in the farm-fresh County of Chester, Station Taproom sources goods from Milky Way Farms, Talula's Table and Conebella Farms

For example, the always-available cheese plate allows individuals to select three cheese from a list of seven creamy pleasures that Talula's Table perfectly pinpointed. May's roundup included Beemster Goat's Milk Gouda, Saint Nectaire's washed-rind cheese, Savoie's Tomme Crayeuse and Landaff Creamery's earthy cheddar.

And, although McGettigan and Barthmaier are extremely passionate about beer, as it does offer fantastic accompaniment to their acclaimed cheese boards, they too take “great pride” in their wine selection.
We didn't want to rule anyone out,” said Barthmaier. “We are about simplicity and approachability, as seen through the best of quality ingredients.”

We are happy to fill the void for a place like this, while providing something for everyone,” concluded Sean. “We love being about to provide an urban experience unlike most others in Downingtown.”

Station Taproom, 207 West Lancaster Avenue, Downingtown, 484-593-0560. Hours: Mon. - Tues., 3 – 12 a.m., Wed. - Thurs., 3 – 12:30 a.m., Fri. - Sat., 3 p.m. - 1 a.m.

Also published in Chester County Cuisine & Nightlife and at Downingtown Dish.