I hadn’t seen old Grub Sprout in a minute, so Grub’s husband and I met him for dinner last week at Tap 40 Grill, a Powell sports bar owned by former UT football player Billy Ratliff. It just so happened that the restaurant was a short drive from The Sprout’s North Knoxville residence. The young woman who turned out to be our server greeted us at the door and escorted us to a table in the main dining room.
Tap 40 lives up to its sports bar mission in every sense, from the abundance of TV screens showing a wide range of sporting events to the pool table and dart boards to the pub-grub menu. Appetizers offer no surprises—everything from giant pretzels and fried pickles to fried cheese curds and nachos.
We didn’t go with any of those items, but decided to try some chicken wings and thighs, which we thought would work as appetizers. We ordered a pound portion and chose the garlic parmesan sauce from their selection of eight house-made varieties. Five different dry rubs are also available. All wing orders come with fries, and our server offered celery and ranch dressing and blue cheese as extras. We said yes to all of them.
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Sprout tried one of the entrees, a chicken quesadilla, which came with fries. Other main dishes include chicken tenders and catfish with chips. They also have a modest collection of pizza and calzone creations, including carnivore and hornbuckle – pesto, tomato, extra mozzarella, feta cheese and a balsamic glaze.
Hubby and I both ordered from the burger and sandwich section. My first choice was an item called the Beast, a burger made with a half pound blend of ground elk, bison, wagyu beef and wild boar. However, our server informed me that this item was discontinued recently, much to my dismay. In fact, she said, many items on the current menu are being removed as new ones are introduced.
My backup plan was Billy’s Big Club Sandwich ($14.75). It’s a textbook club, made with bacon, turkey, ham and smoked cheddar cheese on whole wheat toast. Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles are also available. I searched for the works and chose small cases as wings. Finally, The Souse went with the Appalachian Cheesesteak ($13.75), a take on the Tennessee classic, with grilled steak, onions and smoked cheddar on a hoagie bun. Husband asked for onion rings as an included side.
Our server was very helpful throughout our meal. She did a great job answering all of our questions and helping us navigate the menu, especially when it came to listing items that were no longer available. The only hitch in the proceedings was that our wings were not served early as appetizers. And that was probably because I couldn’t have actually specified that we wanted them delivered first.
We had noticed when we were seated that the table tops in the dining area were extremely large, but we were grateful for all that extra real estate once the food started coming out of the kitchen. Between the wings and our three meals and all the various side items and condiments, we had quite the spread before us as we dug in.
None of our selections were game-changing in any sense, but they were all useful for sports grass. The wings were meaty, and the different notes in the garlic parmesan sauce were distinct. The quesadilla was a bland presentation, but between the chicken and grated cheese and The Sprout sour cream topping, it was quite enjoyable.
Hubby’s cheesesteak sandwich was packed with meat and the flavor was true to what I would expect from this main sandwich. The bun was crisp and soft, but I have to admit I was more interested in the onion rings. These dough-dipped rings were hot, juicy, and so much fun to eat.
My club sandwich was a monster, so much so that even after removing the middle of the three slices of bread, I still could barely fit it in my mouth. This meal stack was everything a club should be, except for too much bread, in my opinion. It was crunchy and brittle. I like my club toast to be a little firm and crusty on the outside, but still have a sponginess left in the middle. My shoes (as well as both fried sides) were good, but not important by any means.
We’ve moved on to dessert, but the current menu posts show that the store-bought cheesecake is typical of what’s in the store. But overall, the food at Tap 40 Grill gets the job done. The venue offers a relaxed sports bar atmosphere and the service we experienced was commendable. Those who live in the Powell/North Knoxville zip codes should find it worth a stop.
Tap 40 Grill
In general: 3.75
Address: 7535 Conner Rd., Powell
Full bar service
Hours: 2 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; Friday from 13:00 to 13:00; Saturdays from 11 am to 1 pm; Sundays from 10 am to 8 pm
This Powell dining/drinking spot offers a complete sports bar experience, from the food and libations to the competition on and off the screen.