Go to a pub and order a burger. Chances are it will be average. A bog standard burger, bap, tomato slice, lettuce leaf and an onion ring if you’re lucky. Go to Urban Tap House and order a burger and you will get a truly innovative culinary creation on your plate. That’s because they “aren’t your average pub,” says manager Chris Rowlands.
Since opening just 15 weeks ago, the pub has “gone through 559 different beers,” Chris continues. “That’s a hell of a lot of beer, so it would be very easy for a pub to be all about the drink, but the food has kept up and has received a good response.” With a whole arsenal of different burgers and bar snacks rustled up in the kitchen, this statement certainly rings true.
The man behind such strokes of genius as candied bacon and The Pizza Burger is Paul Turley. Cutting his teeth with Brains, he made the move to Tiny Rebel when Chris offered him a job.
“I taught myself how to cook,” tells Paul, “but worked through a number of pubs and worked my way up through Brains.” After proving himself in some of their bigger pubs, he earned himself a place in the Head Office development kitchen before accepting his current job at Tap House.
Upon joining up with Chris, the pair set out with an idea of creating a “limited menu that was going to be pretty special and done well,” explained Paul. “It’s better to have one thing done really well than a number of things done really averagely,” he continued and that’s exactly what he’s done with the one dish that he’s truly made his own; the burger.
“We like pushing the boundaries of what a pub can and should be,” says the chef. “We like playing around with food,” a view echoed by Chris who emphasizes the importance of research and development.
Such experimental cooking can give birth to some incredible kitchen creations; The Dirty Shroom or The Pork, Pork and Pork for example, but it doesn’t always result in success. “Some of it doesn’t work, you have to try it or you have no idea,” says Paul. “It’s trial and error,” he continues but “that is half the fun of it,” finishes Chris.
A huge advantage that the pair has is the fact that they “aren’t restricted by the handcuffs of big business,” says Chris. They are free to do what they wish in the kitchen and do not have to go through different levels of departmental approval to get a dish on the menu. “We try our very best to be as fast and agile as a small business can be and being able to knock up a burger and put it on the menu is a handy thing to have over the competition,” he explains.
The Terriyaki Burger for example was created on Friday and went on the menu the next day, as did The Chilli Nacho Burger, and The Pizza Burger was on the menu “within about 15 minutes of being created,” tells Paul.
The burgers and beer may be the main attractions, but Paul’s assistant, Haylee, is starting to make waves of her own with her baking skills. “I never thought I’d have a baking section in the pub,” jokes Chris but “Haylee is a baking legend!” All Haylee’s creations are beer infused and aren’t your average cupcakes and frosting. As well as baking stout and chocolate chilli cookies, she masterminded white chocolate, lemon and pale ale cupcakes, which have proved popular with the pub’s punters.
Urban Tap House’s innovative and dynamic stance of pushing the boundaries and constantly innovating both in the kitchen and at the bar means that every time you visit, you may be able to get your gobs around a totally new burger, beer, or baked good and is arguably why they are quickly becoming one of Cardiff’s most popular pubs.
- Baking with beer at Urban Tap House
- Urban Tap House: A Revisit-Craig Heap
- Urban Tap House: Food Review-Buzz Magazine