While separation of church and state may exist in present-day America, the history of religion shows no such distinction. Many faiths welcome certain adult beverages in ceremony as well as practice. Even today, a few colonies of Trappist Monks lingering in Belgium concoct potions of hand-crafted ale.
Now, these brews are available for sampling at 7 Monks Taproom, which opened its doors this past weekend at the site of the former Union Antiques store in downtown Traverse City. All told, 46 different foreign and domestic brews are sold here, fresh on tap.
True to its name, 7 Monks Taproom exudes the feel of an Old World monastery. Look around–you’ll spot rustic fixtures, a field stone fireplace and cavernous walls punctuated by funky antlers. Lanky planks of blonde wood (reincarnated from a bowling alley) top the bar. This former-antique store has just the right bones to carry-off such a transition.
The newness is infectious, with both staff and customers casting sunny smiles in a cellar-like atmosphere ala Kilkenny’s Irish Public House. As expected during the birth of a busy place offering over 50 beverage choices, congestion was the order of the day at the ticket station. Overall, the staff at 7 Monks Taproom won the war during opening day.
Folks come for the beer, so here goes:
Some 46 brews are available on tap, including Trappist ales, American ales, American lagers, Belgian ales, European and foreign beers, fruit beers, German ales and lagers, as well as limited and seasonal offerings. Suffice to say there are plenty of tastes to experience, as well as your local favorite.
Brave beer calls for brave food, and the 7 Monks Taproom delivers.
For example, the Scotch Egg ($6) is a hardboiled egg tucked inside house-made breakfast sausage that is breaded, fried and accompanied with ‘Dirty Bastard’ mustard and pickles.
Also, the 7 Monk’s Taproom Monk n’ Cheese ($9) bears no resemblance to anything in a box or can. Here, Gemelli pasta is tossed in a sauce blended from aged white cheddar, mascarpone and parmesan cheese and crisped with a layer of fried onion-sage breadcrumbs, pancetta (seasoned Italian bacon) and baby spinach garnishes.
Of course, more traditional pub fare is also offered. For example, the Abbey Burger ($9) is crafted from Michigan-sourced beef and aged white cheddar cheese topped with fresh arugula lettuce, caramelized onions and bacon marmalade. All this oozes from a sesame-poppy seed bun. Add two bucks and you can try Russet Frites– house-made French fries served with herb aioli (mayonnaise with overtones of garlic, olive oil and fragrant herbs).
The menu offers about a half-dozen choices of both appetizers and entrees, including interesting twists on chicken wings, pasta and salad.
Although some may grumble about yet another establishment charging nearly $10 for a hamburger, at least the ingredients back-up the price. Look to spend under $5 for appetizers and under $10 for entrees—quite diner-friendly in a growing resort town such as TC.
In fairness, the first week of operation is no time to rigorously evaluate any restaurant. True, the local scene seems soaked with craft brew establishments. Yet with such a an extensive brew list, bold menu and unique atmosphere, I sense customers from other establishments may be converted to the trappist way of thinking and drinking.
The Facebook posts look promising for such an embryonic establishment.
7 Monks Taproom
128 S. Union Street
Traverse City, MI 49684
Monday – Friday 3 p.m. to midnight; Saturday noon to midnight