Grub Scout: Central Flats & Taps in Happy Holler serves up toast-worthy eats

Central Flats & Taps

North Knoxville - Knoxville


1204 Central Avenue


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Critic's star breakdown

  • Food: 4 stars (out of five)
  • Service: 4
  • Atmosphere: 4
  • Overall: 4

I like pizza. I like beer. So when I heard that Happy Holler was going to be home to a new restaurant that specializes in both, I figured Central Flats & Taps would be an eatery I would enjoy twice as much as the typical restaurant.

The Grub Spouse and I arrived in the thriving Holler district and were surprised to find CF&T doing such a bustling business on a weeknight. The clientele struck me as being an eclectic mix ranging from business types to Bohemians.

We were greeted promptly and invited to take the seat of our choice. There aren't many seating options for just two or four people. Many of the tables accommodate large groups, so we staked out one end of a high-top table for eight and were agreeable to being joined by strangers if it came down to it.

Much of the menu is built around flatbread, starting with the appetizers. The black bean hummus, sun-dried tomato dip and crab artichoke dip can all be scooped up by the bread, either individually or as a trio of samplers. The pizzas (or flats, as they're called there) are built on stone-fired flatbread as well and are lightly sauced so as not to overpower the toppings. The menu offers up a half-dozen pies, including the Crazy Cajun (bleu cheese sauce, Cajun chicken, red onions and feta and bleu cheese crumbles); the Cluckin N Kickin BBQ Chicken pizza; and the Greeks Greek (balsamic herb-infused olive oil, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, red peppers, red onions, roasted garlic and feta cheese).

I ordered the Porky Pie, a meaty blend of Italian sausage, chorizo and smoked sausage on a traditional fire-roasted marinara and topped with stone-roasted garlic and CF&T's herb-cheese blend.

The Spouse looked over the selection of four paninis and decided on the East of Cali sandwich, made with free-range turkey breast, smoked gouda cheese, red onion, fresh avocado and pesto basil mayo. Other options included the Tuscany (featuring salami, ham and pepperoni), the Veginator and the Mediterranean.

While we waited, I checked out the bar area and noticed that their full bar service includes a selection of approximately 20 draft beers and 40 bottled beers, both domestic and imported. You'll also find wines by Bota, Twisted, Concannan and Biltmore Estates.

Our food arrived, and just a few bites into the sandwich, The Spouse realized that it was a Tuscany and not the requested East of Cali. We are surprisingly forgiving of wrong orders and generally don't send something back unless it's something that we simply don't find appealing. In this case, the Tuscany was delish, and The Spouse was happy with it, so we chose not to wait for a re-do (we were both quite hungry).

Meanwhile, my flat was served on a cutting board, and although sizes aren't mentioned on the menu, the pie was about a foot in diameter — an ideal size for a one-person meal. The three meats were distinctively tasty despite being piled on together, and as a sauce minimalist, I appreciated CF&T's light touch.

Except for the wrong order, we had received excellent service, and at the end of the evening, a manager/owner type person approached us and asked us how our meal was. As I was opening my mouth to mention our ordering issue — for constructive purposes only — he mentioned hearing that we had received the wrong item (it had been a kitchen error, not a server goof). As a gesture of goodwill, he deducted that item from our tab.

In contrast to some places I've visited lately, it was nice to hear management own up to problems and fix them. Errors are going to happen in restaurants, but in my book, it's how they're handled that makes the difference. In this case, I'm more than happy to holler how well Central Flats & Taps rose to the occasion.

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