Why was I not surprised when I called the Keg on 6th and heard an Irish lilt in owner Eddie McNerney's voice? He and Keg on 6th partner Richard Carmichael are Irish expats. What is it about the United Kingdom and fried cod?
They serve some of the best fish and chips ($13) I've found in South Florida. Each fillet is coated in Narragansett beer batter and fried until crisp. It's virtually greaseless. Served with incredibly crisp fries, it is the dish for which I will return to the Keg on 6th. They even had a fresh bottle of malt vinegar on hand.
The Keg is first and foremost a craft-beer bar with 28 on tap and another two dozen in bottles. We drank La Fin du Monde ($8) from Quebec brewery Unibroue and Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA ($7) from Chico, Calif., as we perused the simple, one-page, photocopied menu.
Open since early May, the Keg on 6th once housed an old-school diner called the Hutch Grill. It's west of Federal Highway, north of I-595 and south of State Road 84. Like other good beer purveyors in Broward County — Laser Wolf, Tap 42, Funky Buddha Brewery — it's brought an after-dark life to a section of town that typically closes at 5.
The no-frills space was an affordable start for McNerney, who managed American Social on Las Olas, and Richard Carmichael, who tended bar at the now-closed Dubliner in Fort Lauderdale's Himmarshee Village.
The Keg is a neighborhood spot with polished concrete floors, street-art-style walls and a huge chalkboard along the back wall of the bar that lists the beer offerings. A bartender told me that "foodies, beer nerds" and people who work in the surrounding marine businesses have been early customers.
Watch the specials board, or you'll miss such highlights as lamb meatballs stuffed with goat cheese ($10) and served with a sweet soy-based sauce. Other "starters and Keg bites" include chicken wings ($10) tossed in sweet chili-lime sauce and curried cauliflower with pickled jalapeno and sweet soy ($5).
We shared a bowl of guasacaca ($6), sometimes called the Venezuelan version of guacamole. It has a thinner texture than guacamole and seasoned with cilantro, garlic and a hot pepper. We scooped up every bite using the accompanying kettle-style potato chips.
Aside from the phenomenal fish and chips, the three other entree offerings are mahi tacos ($9), fried chicken and biscuit with black-pepper gravy ($8) and seven-day cured pork-belly confit with sticky rice in a sweet orange sauce ($9). We ordered an unadorned side of pork belly ($4), and were disappointed that it wasn't more crispy.
Among the burgers and sandwiches is the Keg Burger ($12), stout-glazed with Muenster cheese, roasted tomato and bacon-jalapeno jam. The beef itself was delicious, but the jam was on the watery side, so the only way to eat this was with a fork and knife. There's also a guava-barbecue-pork grinder ($10) and the Cubano ($10), made with house-cured bacon, pork loin, avocado, Swiss and pickles. There's lots here to explore at a reasonable price.
I have no doubt that service will mature as the restaurant draws more foodies than beer drinkers. That said, beer and wine is 25 percent off 3-8 p.m. weekdays.
If the specials board includes bread pudding ($6), don't hesitate to order it. So much bread pudding these days tastes commercial. Here, you can see that someone tore the bread up with their hands. It's topped with sweet caramel made with a healthy splash of Rogue Dead Guy Ale. It's what gastropub fare is meant to be.
3218 SE Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Cuisine: American gastropub
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily, Sunday brunch
Reservations: Only for eight or more
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Beer and wine
Sound level: Conversational
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Highchairs
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot