February 7, 2013 by ka101010
As you can tell from my previous post about beer in Seoul, the hubby and I are constantly on a mission to seek out brewpubs/gastropubs that get beer right (good food helps, too). Having read good reviews about Reilly’s Taphouse on other blogs and ratings sites, we happily set out to Itaewon.
Reilly’s Taphouse opened in December 2012, and the photos from blog posts alone were enough to draw us in: long list of beers on tap, no Hite/Cass, interesting menu. We easily got a table on a Friday night and were impressed by the range of offerings on tap: a variety from both Craftworks and Magpie, a Wee Heavy (which may have been mislabeled because looked way lighter than a Belhaven), Reilly’s PDA (Reilly’s own housemade dark ale, which had good body and creamy head), Big Rock, and imported German beers. Not sure what order? Get a sampler of 4 draft beers of your choice! Makes for great tasting sessions when you want to mix up some styles or venture into the unknown without committing to a full pint. One thing I wish some of the craft brew places would do is add tasting notes (short descriptions of each beer) to the menu, rather than simply list each beer by style. Reason being is that not all customers (especially in a developing beer market like Korea) are familiar with the characteristics of each style (pilsners are light but dry, barleywines are high-gravity and malty, IPAs are dry and hoppy/citrusy, etc.). Tasting notes are also extremely helpful in Korea because we’ve found that restaurant servers are often uninformed about foreign beers.
I spied a bottle of Dogfish Head 120 Min IPA), but they didn’t serve it so I felt teased. Other bottles that were available included a 750ml Delerium Tremens and Hitacino. The selection was rather hoppy, but they offered a Dunkelweiss when we asked for something maltier.
The menu really excited me at first, but then we were told that only fries and appetizers were available that night (*cue sad trombone sound). We ordered the mussels with hefeweizen reduction, fries, scotch eggs, and burger sliders.
The sliders were good but not exciting, served with a cheese slice that looked like a Kraft single (which melts quite beautifully when the meat is warm enough, but at a place like this I was hoping for an artisan cheddar). The mussels were done quite nicely and served with a few pieces of sliced bread (broth doubled as an interesting dip for the fries). I was really looking forward to the scotch eggs, but ended up disappointed. The eggs were very overdone (sulfuric, crumbly yolk), the meat coating reminded me of under-seasoned processed chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. Poured atop was a tomato sauce, which lent necessary acidity to balance the fat, but was so bland it tasted like it was simply poured out of a can from Costco. The one bright spot was the perfectly crispy exterior, which (inadvertently?) may have caused the overall dryness of the egg. I understand that normal scotch eggs generally have a solid yolk. However, my ideal scotch egg resides in Brookline, Massachusetts at Hops n Scotch: Spicy house-made chorizo sausage wrapped around a soft-boiled egg, battered and fried until crispy, with bourbon-mustard dipping sauce. The soft-boiled egg releases a perfect runny yolk, and the bourbon-mustard sauce and spice from the chorizo lend a sharp edge to the delicious richness of the egg and crispy exterior. Soft-boiling is a technically challenging execution (a challenge on American MasterChef, and one I personally find intimidating), but this method keeps the egg from going yucky and sulfuric, and lends a big WOW factor when the diner can slice into a whole deep-fried egg and break a perfect yolk themselves. Which sounds nicer: overdone, dry, smelly yolk or artfully done soft yolk? Just a suggestion…
The staff was very nice and attentive. The Cicerone (beer sommelier) and one of the partners came by a few times and answered our questions, which I thought was really nice.
This dining experience aside (*and in 2013, some new kitchen staff joined the team), we are really happy Reilly’s Taphouse has joined the craft beer scene in Seoul. The staff is clearly committed to offering good quality, interesting beers and we’re looking forward to seeing an expanded beer list.