Best Restaurants 2011: Gastropubs

Food: Elevated pub fare is made by actual chefs (no line cooks here) using quality ingredients (so that's fresh fish, and those chips were made here). Beer: At least six are on tap (mostly American craft brews) with seasonal selections. Booze: It's a matter of quality, not quantity. Feel: Like a neighborhood hangout.

Tremont Tap House
|| the proven hit ||

The 48 beers on tap at the Tremont Tap House all share one commonality: They're uncommon. You'll be hard-pressed to find so much as a Guinness or even a Samuel Adams here. What will delight the beer connoisseur and regular old adventurous drinker alike is the sheer unpredictability of it all. The list, almost exclusively American craft beers on tap, changes weekly and by 50 to 75 percent each time.

"We tap it; we taste it; we print up the list with a description of the flavor profiles," explains Jason Workman co-owner of the city's first notable gastropub, which opened in 2007. He and fellow owner Chris Lieb's dedication to quality runs deep — they have the tap lines cleaned professionally every two weeks.

If it's foreign beers you want, you'll just have to dive into the Tap House's 100-bottle selection. If you get hungry, well, Workman sees that as the added bonus of running a place like his.

"When I think of gastropub, it's a casual pub where you go to see your friends, but you don't necessarily go there to eat food," he says. "But when you order, you're going to get somebody that's put a lot of time and effort into the quality of that dish." Chef James Locomber is a prestigious Johnson & Wales alum (13 of their grads are up for James Beard awards this year), so you'll find vegetables grown from their own garden and touches such as locally made chorizo in the tacos.

The Pub Rocky River
|| a jolly old place ||

We're drinking: Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (the Pub was one of the first places to carry it here)

On tap: 30 beers, including a solid stable of British brews. Roughly 10 rotating and 20 set taps
19304 Detroit Road, Rocky River, 440-356-6933,

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