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Spotlight: North Quarter Tavern Truly Tavern-Like

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The tagline on the home page of North Quarter Tavern’s website — “A chef-driven neighborhood tavern from the Citrus Restaurant team” — might lead you to expect something a little grand, maybe even upscale than what you’ll find there.

Heck, even the North Quarter designation sounds a bit highfalutin. Perhaps you envision something along the lines of Manhattan’s Gramercy Tavern or Tavern on the Green, where the dining experience is more upscale and the tavern tag is used ironically.

But no, North Quarter Tavern is truly tavern-like. The floating-island bar is the central focus of the small space and there is no separate dining room.

This is a bar, albeit a bar with above average fare.

Yes, you’ll find a burger on the menu, even a Reuben sandwich and a meatloaf entree, all classic pub fare. But you’ll also find hand-cut wagyu steak tartare, grilled Scottish salmon and smoked Duroc pork belly.

My guests and I started with that tartare, a perfect little puck of chopped meat with the other essentials blended in. A plump egg yolk sat atop it, ready to be broken and blended into the meat.

I also couldn’t resist trying the poutine, the Canadian, um, delicacy of fries topped with gravy, meat and cheese curds. Here the gravy was fashioned out of duck drippings and ladled over the darkly fried fries. This is one of those things you know you shouldn’t eat but can’t stop yourself from having just one more.

One of my guests chose the beef short rib tacos for an entree, which was served deconstructed, with the meat, bean mash, salsa and guacamole served next to a stack of warm flour tortillas for the guest to assemble. So, basically, fajitas without the sizzle. The short rib meat was delightfully braised into tender richness, but I would have preferred to have the kitchen put the tacos together. Even Chipotle assembles the ingredients for you.

Another guest chose the grilled Scottish salmon, a beautiful fillet with a nice crisp on the outside and moist flakes of flesh inside. It was presented under a salad of arugula and frisee with a stalk of broccoli.

North Quarter Tavern should do well here. As more apartments and condos go up and fill up in the surrounding blocks, the residents will gravitate to the sort of place that has good food and drink and friendly servers.

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