First Bite: Five Horses Tavern

When it comes to brews—and bites to accompany them—this new haunt comes out ahead of the pack.

Photo by Dan Watkins

Photo by Dan Watkins

Davis Square’s newest hangout seems to have an identity crisis. There’s the atmosphere, at once funky (a chandelier crafted from tap handles), rustic (a crackling fireplace), and sporty (plenty of flat-screens). Then there’s the eclectic range of comfort cuisine — everything from pizza to pad thai to pork-belly tacos occupies space on the menu. Yet for the most part, the disparate elements at this polished spot somehow work.

Of course, any pub worth its weight in hops features a stellar list of suds, and it’s no different at Five Horses, a joint project by Bukowski alums Dylan Welsh and Aaron Parsons. The tavern sources an impressive selection of craft beers both global (with a strong emphasis on Belgian and German brews) and close to home. The food is designed to complement the beers, though with thoughtful touches like the sweet-tangy tequila-lime sauce that coats the “drunken wings” ($10, pictured), it packs a bit more punch than your average pub grub. Peppery tuna tacos with a blood orange–chili glaze ($10) had an ideal balance of citrus and spice, though the seemingly store-bought (and needlessly large) flour tortillas detracted from the bright flavor of the fish. And the crust of the “lobstah pie” ($15) — a pizza topped with lobster, pork belly, grilled corn, and scallions — was too doughy, overwhelming the rest of the ingredients.

Larger plates fared better. The grass-fed burger ($11) with tomato confit and pickled red onions and cucumber was as juicy as they come; the accompanying tater tots, however, stirred up unpleasant memories of the high school cafeteria. Meanwhile, the “K.F.C.G.H.” ($16) — that’s Kentucky-fried Cornish game hen, though it’d be more aptly named “heart attack on a plate” — featured crisp batter-fried meat accompanied by heaping sides of pork-belly mac ’n’ cheese and jalapeño-spiked mashed potatoes. It’s a heavy dish, no doubt, but nothing an ice-cold pint from Five Horses Tavern’s extensive beer list couldn’t wash down.

400 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-764-1655,