“Serious food and over 500 craft-beers—discover your new favorite today.”— Sedona Taphouse website
“Sedona Taphouse works diligently to bring you the best in local and international craft beer, interesting wines, and creative handcrafted martinis. We also prepare our dining menu from the finest ingredients based on their seasonal quality and availability.”—Sedona Taphouse website
As faithful readers know, my husband, John and I love traveling. Part of the appeal of a trip is meeting new people; and, of course, eating new foods/dishes. What better place to meet others and get a sense of the local flavor than eating a meal at the bar in a well-rated restaurant? And, for those of my readers that do not imbibe alcohol, trust me, you are still welcome to dine at the restaurant bar—it is an experience I highly recommend, especially when traveling!
When sitting at the bar of a restaurant, you often get more than one bartender taking care of you, which is great if you tend to need frequent refills on your favorite beverage. Furthermore, they tend to have more time to talk to you—after all, that is part of their job. Not only are bartenders helpful in making food, wine, beer, and dessert recommendations, but they are also a wealth of information regarding best places to visit in the area—especially if you’re interested in non-touristy or off-the-beaten-path adventures. Such was the case while we were visiting the Charlottesville, VA area.
Sedona Taphouse was ranked number 19 out of 339 restaurants reviewed in Charlottesville, VA on Trip Advisor, one of our go-to websites. What especially appealed to me was the fact that it appeared to offer an unbelievable number of gluten-free dishes—which is a huge plus for me as I have celiac disease and cannot consume wheat products. According to Trip Advisor, not only did Sedona Taphouse offer copious, exclusively gluten-free dishes, but also a variety of menu items coded, “gfo,” meaning, a gluten-free variation of that dish can be prepared. Furthermore, the menu also featured dishes deemed, “heart healthier.” What’s more, we later learned from bartenders, Ryan and Danielle, the kitchen would gladly modify any dish to our taste-preference. Additionally, a visiting manager, Peter, further elaborated that each location (I counted six on their web site.), creates unique menu offerings based upon local availability of ingredients.
Walking into this Charlottesville location of Sedona Taphouse, the ambiance was warm and welcoming with earthy greens, wood, and stone surrounding the diners. The bar area was quite large, and we were able to find two seats together without waiting (another plus for sitting at a bar—no wait time). One of the biggest eye-catchers of the restaurant was the extensive line of beer taps as well as chalkboard and TV screens listing the bottled craft beers alongside reviews. In fact, we happened to meet one diner from, of all places, Columbus, OH, taking pictures of the beer taps, boards, and screens because as he stated, “My buddies back home won’t believe me when I tell them, and I want proof!”
Once seated, we met Ryan, our main bartender/waiter, for the evening. As we chatted with Ryan, a young man preparing to enter chiropractic school, he handed us the menu. I had already viewed parts of the menu on-line; however, taking in the extensive list of gluten-free and gluten-free option dishes—including appetizers, salads, pastas, sides, wood grilled meat-based entrees, and various seafood dishes (hello, crab cakes)—well, I was stunned. Adding icing to the cake, literally and figuratively, was a gluten-free, flourless chocolate cake! (Oh, yes, you know I had my eye on that one immediately!) Needless to say, Ryan seemed accustomed to diners who experience difficulty deciding on the perfect meal. Furthermore, he was quite knowledgeable about the various dishes and patiently answered our questions.
We happened to be visiting Sedona Taphouse on a Wednesday evening. We already knew it was their happy hour; which meant all appetizers were 50% off as well as several drink specials. What we did not realize was that it was “Wine-down Wednesday.” This special included a wine tasting of two featured wines near the entrance of the restaurant, discounted wine by the glass, as well as 50% off all bottled wines.
Ultimately, we ended up beginning dinner with an appetizer of Chicken and Black Bean Tostada. Made with a scrumptious combination of tortillas, cheddar cheese, fresh pico, jalapenos, black bean salsa, cilantro, and sour cream, this was truly the perfect appetizer size for sharing—just enough to nosh and enjoy without filling up the stomach. For dinner, I chose another succulent appetizer, Spicy Thai shrimp served with fresh green beans and Napa cabbage, sautéed in a savory Thai sauce. Beside me, John enjoyed the Australian ‘Kobe Beef’ Sliders. These mini-sandwiches were made with Wagyu beef, Vermont Cheddar, house made sauce, and caramelized onions. They were served with a side of house made blue potato chips that they call, “blues.” Needless to say, John and I were in food heaven. And, yes, I did order that gluten-free Chocolate Decadence cake (I could only eat a small portion; it was that rich, and saved the rest for the next night.); whereas, John ordered the Salted Caramel Cheesecake—which he thoroughly enjoyed!
Needless to say, our experience was so positive at Sedona Taphouse, the menu was exceedingly extensive, and the service was outstandingly personal, that we returned the following night. Just as the night before, we returned during happy hour for food and drink discounts, and the place was packed! Fortunately for us, Ryan, was working again, and he quickly cleared two seats in order for us to join him at the bar.
Like a broken record, John and I split the same Tostado appetizer—it was that yummy. Then, after consulting with Ryan over various food choices—it was still as challenging a choice as the first night—I decided to try the Wood-grilled Salmon Asparagus Salad. This salad was filled with organic greens, asparagus, feta, walnuts, tomatoes, dried cranberries, and a house made lemon balsamic vinaigrette. Talk about delicious—even John, who claims not to like salmon, tasted my salad and was surprised by how much he like it! Meanwhile, John ordered the Prime Rib Sandwich made with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onion, Fontana cheese, and horseradish sauce on an artisan roll. It was served with those tasty, salty, and perfectly crisp blue chips. John loved every delectable morsel.
Therefore, if you are ever in the Charlottesville, VA area, I highly recommend the Sedona Taphouse. We were treated to personal service, a kitchen open to customer modification of dishes, unbelievably scrumptious foods, and an extensive selection for those in need of gluten-free, heart-healthy, and/or other specific dietary needs. Plus, for those who enjoy “adult beverages”, the beer, wine, and drink varieties are wide-ranging. And, let’s not forget, this memorable dining venue serves up gluten-free Chocolate Decadence Cake!