Rapscallion Seafood House & Bar has a great wood-burning fireplace, mostly hardwood dining booths, a few tables, and a great mahogany bar giving it an old English pub feel. It’s a big place that will hold a couple hundred folks and has a great outside patio in warm weather. And after 36 years, it’s fair to say it has become a staple for food and grog in Reno.
The menus are inviting for both lunch ($7-$29) and dinner ($6-$56), and there’s a small plates menu served in the bar ($8-$15) with wine and drink specials nightly. The bar serves several cocktails made with fresh fruit juice, a nice touch.
The wine list, starting at $30 a bottle, is one of the best—250 bottles—for a stand-alone restaurant in the area, with a very proper selection of French topping out with legends like a 1949 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac for $6K or a ’90 Petrus for $7,200. They also offer 36 wines by-the-glass ($7-$15.75), primarily new world wines.
Executive Chef Dan Bauer has been at the helm for about a year. A Chicago native, Bauer has an impressive resume. A graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Providence, R.I., Bauer made his way to northern Nevada about six years ago starting at Thunder Canyon Country Club down in Washoe, heading the Steakhouse at the Atlantis and now showing his talent at the Rap.
After an extensive tour of the menu, out came the food. Clam Chowder, New England style ($4 cup or $6 bowl), was thick enough to stand a spoon upright. Plenty of fresh clam meat and potatoes added at the last minute to keeping them from turning to mush—creamy rich with an opulent clam-savory flavor.
The chef wanted me to try one of the small plates, so he sent out the swordfish nuggets ($5). I’m not much for deep fried foods, but these had a light Panko breading and were served with three dipping sauces: barbecue, sweet pineapple chile and ranch. The fish bites were firm yet moist, and the flavor profiles were true to the dipping sauces. They were not bad for deep fried, and I’d recommend them.
Chef also sent out the ahi tuna tartare ($9). Only a couple of other places offer this in town, and this one is a contender. Fresh ahi from Sierra Gold Seafood, a local, family owned company, atop fresh avocado drizzled in a sauce of scallions, cilantro, ponzu—a Japanese-style tart, thin sauce—a little wasabi and ginger. Scoop them with crispy wontons and a creamy, seafood flavor with bright accents of a little heat from the ginger and wasabi to a savory tart finish leaving the taste buds begging for more.
Finally, I had one of the signature dishes at the Rap, their pan-seared day boat scallops ($29). Think silver dollar sized, about an inch thick, times three. This is the only place in these parts you’ll find these large delights. Sit them atop portobello mushrooms and create a creamy lobster bisque sauce with scallions and roasted red peppers. They were fresh and very mild—not too fishy—with a sweet taste and the rich sauce with the delicate scallions added a savory, almost butter-like quality which highlighted these treasured, food-worthy mollusks.
The menu does broaden out to pastas, and certified Angus beef steaks, but the seafood gets my vote. Since it’s their 36th year in business, they offer a $36, three course, anniversary menu, too. The dining room is both ageless and renewed, a tribute to a restaurant that reflects a genteel past and transforms it into a culinary destination that celebrates the future.