Talking with Ben Porter about Copper Tap House

June 7, 2014 talks with Ben Porter, Owner of Jacksonville restaurant Copper Tap House.

Loco Moco

19. What’s Baked Goat Cheese Pomodora Dip?

It’s made with a California goat cheese. The Pomodora aspect refers to the Italian flair of the dish in terms of the spices, fresh diced tomatoes, and olive oils we use.  

20. What’s a Bolillo?

Bolillo means “white bread” so it represents a traditional Mexican sandwich that is popular in Texas. It’s made with ground up chorizo sausage that’s formed into a patty. We grill the chorizo patty and add pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, onions and tomatoes.

21. Are there any hidden gems on the menu that people may not think to try right away?

Absolutely - our desserts! We have a European trained pastry chef. We start early in the morning making the desserts at the same time as we’re baking our rolls.

22. Do you have a dessert favorite?

The Tortuga Rum Cake is hard to beat. It’s another regional Island specialty from Hawaii. We make it with Whaler’s Vanille, which is a Caribbean rum. It’s got fresh strawberries and white chocolate on it. It’s hard to describe, but it’s fantastic. And it pairs well with some of our craft beers.

23. Dessert and beer?

Yes! Beer is great with everything. The Tortuga Rum Cake goes perfectly with our Breckenridge Vanilla Porter beer. It’s a perfect combination.

24. Do a lot of people order beer with their dessert?

Absolutely! If my wife allowed it I’d order dessert and beer as my meal.

There are a lot of good combinations. Our Tres Leches is a Latin American dessert made with 3 different milks. It’s a light dessert and goes well with something like a light wheat beer.

Craft beers lend themselves well to pairing with all our food, not just dessert. The Rib Eye has a little kick to it and pairs well with an IPA. We also use craft beer in a lot of our cooking. For example, we make our in-house demi-glace with a touch of stout and our Arrogant Bastard Pepper Jack Queso is made with Arrogant Bastard beer.

25. How did you come up with your menu?

Our general manager, Ace French, is the one who puts together our food selection. Chef French created the menu, and he set up the kitchen initially. In addition to being a top chef Ace has also worked all over the country, from Hawaii to New Orleans and DC, so he brings a lot of hands on experience with the regional cooking we feature. We’re now at the point where our two excellent kitchen managers can run things on a day-to-day basis so that Ace can focus on the front of the house.

26. Can you tell us a little bit about Chef French’s background?

Chef French is the owner of Two Dude’s Seafood Market here in Atlantic Beach, which he continues to run as well helping us here at Copper. I’m afraid to ask how many hours he works, but at least the restaurants are close by so he can move between them a few times a day as needed.

Executive Chef and GM, Ace French

27. Did Chef French give you the idea for the sliders?

I told him that I wanted to make sliders our focus and that I wanted a regional menu. From there I asked him what he could do and let him take it from there. When Ace first came to me with his ideas he had 36 different sliders, so a lot of them didn’t make it onto the first menu. We’ll have a lot of opportunities to introduce new slider options over time.

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