White Labs Kitchen & Tap

White Labs Kitchen & Tap: Science Done Right
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Like a successful science experiment, White Labs Kitchen & Tap gets everything just right. The restaurant and tasting room showcases fermented foods -- including woodfired pizzas, bread, sauces, salads, desserts, and cocktails. The 28 rotating taps of beer alone make the trip worthwhile.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

White Labs Kitchen & Tap can best be described as a boutique restaurant and a tasting room illustrating the art of fermented and beer-infused foods.

White Labs creates its own pure liquid yeast and uses it to make a myriad of unbelievably diverse food and drink. In fact, the company started out as a yeast provider to craft breweries, meaning they know what they’re doing when it comes to yeast.

They allow their pizza dough to rise for 72 hours and then bake it with pure liquid yeast cultures in a woodfired oven. It’s not all about the yeast, though. If you happen to hear someone raving about the vegetables it is likely because they were pickled in-house.

The truth is, If you don’t know anything about the power of yeast in food production, you may be a bit of an expert by the time you leave the restaurant. One tasting will impress upon you how very much yeast impacts the complexity of the food and drink you enjoy every day.

Have you ever tried half a dozen beers brewed with different yeasts? At White Labs you can. Not only that, but you are sure to walk away with a greater appreciation for the role yeast plays in creating a great beer. If you are able to choose just one as a favorite, you’ll also know more about your personal preferences as you move forward in your quest for the “perfect” brew.

To be sure, the food is great, but it’s the ambiance that pushes White Labs into the above-and-beyond category. Details – like vintage lab artifacts and beakers used as flower vases – offer a sense of whimsy as well as a nod to the very real experimenting conducted in the kitchen.

Chefs and brew masters alike spend their time at White Labs coming up with new and innovative ways to introduce customers to tastes that will delight them. It’s hit and miss for the artisans, with only the best discoveries making their way to the menu. Everything that goes on behind the scenes ultimately benefits you as a patron.

Your greatest challenge may be in choosing from the imaginative menu. Here are few favorites for your consideration:

As you mull over appetizers, just know that there’s nothing quite like the Perfect Carrots, an amazing combination of sous vide carrots, carrot sauerkraut, whipped ricotta, carrot caramel, and streusel.

Scampi Woodfired Pizza features shrimp, bay scallops, tarragon, roasted fennel, mozzarella, and citrus butter for a surprising kick.

Brussels Woodfired Pizza is topped with Brussels sprouts, bacon, pecans, wine pears, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and hot honey.

The  fully-loaded Hot Chicken Sandwich consists of buttermilk-fried Joyce Farms chicken, pimento cheese, Tennessee hot mop, pickles, English Ale Yeast brioche bun, side of bleu cheese sauce, and if you like it really hot, a combo White Labs calls “insanely spicy.”

Finish your meal off with a decadent Pecan Pie Sundae, made with chunks of pecan pie, ice cream, whey caramel, chocolate ganache, sorghum whipped cream, and cherries.

The menu is not huge, but every detail has been studied, much like a science experiment. Service can be frustratingly slow at times, but not enough to dissuade you from giving White Labs Kitchen & Tap the opportunity to impress you with their cuisine.

Insider Tips:
-Expect the unexpected. As with any wood fired food, the first batch does not always make the cut. If it takes a little longer than you anticipated to get a pizza out to you it could just be because the flames got a little too near the first one.
-White Labs offers a tour of their production facility so be sure to check into it (if you can pull yourself away from the taproom).