Slightly Vicious, Always Tasty

A local craft brewery makes a splash in Fuquay-Varina. 

By Brittany Murdock / Photos courtesy of Vicious Fishes Brewery

Photo courtesy of the news & observer

Photo courtesy of the news & observer

When Vicious Fishes Brewery (based in Angier) opened its gastropub in downtown Fuquay-Varina in December, they’d already reeled in a pretty big fish to helm the food operations. Executive Chef Ryan Miller may be excited at the opportunity to return to his roots in North Carolina, but Triangle foodies are even more excited that he’s brought his talents home to Vicious Fishes Taproom & Kitchen after perfecting his technique with David Chang’s Momofuku group in New York City. 

At Momofuku, Chef Miller helped lead the restaurant’s Ssam Bar to world-class acclaim (hitting No. 24 in the San Pelligrino world ranking) and continued on to lead product development of the Momofuku Culinary Lab, with a focus on signature products based on fermented foods. Now in the Vicious Fishes kitchen, he’s creating new culinary experiences through tasteful dishes with everything prepped and created fresh in-house.

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The focused menu is oriented towards sharing, with the Raw Oysters and Korean BBQ Beef Skewers quickly becoming fan favorites. The Pilsner Steamed Mussels and the Seared Scallops—served with garlic herb butter, wasabi creamed navy beans, and sautéed turnips with spinach—can’t be overlooked either. But the true star of the show has to be the Molé Lamb Shank Tacos, full of rich flavor and all the cotija cheese you could imagine.

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And they’re not just pouring beer from the tap. You can expect to find their signature ales used in a variety of dishes including the Beer Brined/Cured Pickles and the Ale Braised Roast Beef Sandwich.

What’s a good meal without something to wash it down with? The Taproom & Kitchen features 16 of their finest beers on tap. Go light with the Following Seas Golden Ale or dive deep and try the Mooncusser Imperial Stout (a bold 10.3 percent ABV). Their signature IPA, Here Be Dragons, boasts “a ridiculous amount of hops.” 

“Something that we’ve seen develop is this idea that people are really receptive to change in their beers,” says owner Ken O’Berry. “The first thing people ask is ‘What’s new?’ Lately it’s been sours, and that opens up a whole other pathway.”

Not feeling a cold brew? Try one of their craft cocktails or a glass of wine from their extensive wine list, all carefully cultivated and tasted by O’Berry. They also keep a cider on tap for those who prefer it—Noble Cider, based in Asheville, to be exact.

“I believe in their product so I will always rotate among their brand,” O’Berry says. “We’re trying to differentiate ourselves here and the cider should be as good as the beer and the beer should be as good as the cider.”

Already the gastropub, which neighbors Cultivate Coffee Roasters, has settled into the community as guests are easily hooked by the eclectic and adventurous menu, beer selection, and alluring outdoor patio. The space the restaurant resides in was once home to Rock Harbor Grill. And although the market might not have been ready for a high-end seafood joint, it sure is ready for a brewery taproom with a killer food concept.

O’Berry and his team are thrilled to plant some roots here in Fuquay-Varina, and already have plans in the works for location number three: The opening of another taproom and kitchen is slated for later this year, just three miles from downtown Apex.   

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