I am typing this now that we have finally had a cool weekend in Florida. You may or may not have noticed but my proliferation of Blog articles has waned over the last couple of months. This due in no small part to the heat we have been experiencing here in Florida and my lack of air-conditioning. My AC will be repaired shortly and the cooler weather has finally broached the borders of Florida so I am inspired to begin my writing anew.
A couple of weeks ago our regular Friday flurry of texts began as usual. We ended up deciding on visiting the Top for Happy Hour and to meet there at 5, which was when they opened. The Chemist and the Deck-orator were busy and the Cooler was at hunting camp so they wouldn’t be joining us. The Doctor started his happy hour earlier in the day since he had finished a long, hot work week the day before so he wasn’t going to travel across town to join us. So that left the Maestro, Rowdy and yours truly.
If you are new to Gainesville and have never heard of the Top Restaurant then you are missing out on not only a local legend but a great place for food and beverages. The Top recently celebrated their 15th Anniversary. If you know anything about the restaurant business, or even business in general, then you know just the fact that they have been around so long speaks volumes.
I arrived at the corner of Main Street and University Avenue just as the Top, located just up the block on Main, was opening. I saw a crowd waiting for the opening as I approached but by the time I made it to the door I walked right in. Most folks were getting a table for their dinner, but a few were doing the same as me and making their way to the bar. I went to the far side and snagged a couple of seats. The bartender on that section of the bar, a young man named Brian, asked if I cared for a drink. I asked for the beer menu which he obliged me with. I think he may have waited on me the last time I visited the Top and as I remember he was someone who knew his beers pretty well.
I had been feeling rather parched and hot earlier in the day so a lighter beer sounded perfect to me. I saw a Czech Pilsner on the menu and thought that might do the job so I ordered it. And that was a good call. It was a Praga Pils brewed by Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar in the Czech Republic. It not only hit the spot but was a very smooth tasting pilsner, so good that I recommended it to the Maestro when he arrived shortly after. He ordered a different beer for his first but chose that for his second and agreed with me about the quality.
We started catching up and Philosophying for a bit then I ordered my second draft, a Hoppy Bunny ABA from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery. This was a Black IPA style and lived up to the name Hoppy, which shouldn’t have surprised me. It tasted good but the hop level was a little too much for me that soon in the beer sampling process. I noticed the time and saw that Rowdy hadn’t show yet. I was starting to feel a bit peckish but didn’t want to order dinner before she showed up so I ordered an appetizer instead. Luckily the Maestro helped me with it otherwise I wouldn’t have eaten dinner.
After a bit I was ready for another craft beer but wanted something to chase out the hoppiness of the Hop Bunny. So I went with one of the fruit beer releases that Funky Buddha Brewing has recently released, a More Moro which had very fruity aromas and flavor. Around about then Rowdy showed up and the three of us continued Philosophying. Rowdy looked over the draft menu and ordered her first ale. Then she and I both ordered some dinner. She ordered a special they going which was a tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich. And I ordered a burger and fries.
Rowdy’s soup looked more like bisque than a normal tomato soup and Rowdy confirmed the texture was similar but she also said it was very delicious. I can’t recall the paring of cheeses for her grilled cheese but she liked that as well.
I can’t remember the name of the burger I ordered but it had roasted red peppers, pesto, tomato, sweet onions and pickles on it and was delicious. The fries at the Top are really great too if you’re a French fries aficionado then I think you’ll enjoy them.
When my burger was done I was ready for another beer, so I ordered a Fuchschen Alt, a German Altbeer, which was very tasty. It was actually the perfect topper for a good meal and a nice way to finish this session of Philosphying.
If you’ve never been to the top then go! The food is fantastic! The drink selection (beers, wines and mixed drinks) is changing depending on the seasons but always has a wide variety and great choices. The décor has a kitschy Floridian feel to it. The staff is made up of a great bunch of folks! And I have to admit the other patrons are usually easy to look at. I’ve never not enjoyed a visit there. The Top has definitely been aptly named.