Red or Green?
"The Toad" Comes to Town
New Silver City tavern offers its own craft-made beers and spirits.
by Peggy Platonos
A new tavern has appeared in downtown Silver City at the corner of Bullard and Broadway in the building that for many years housed Isaac's Bar. It's the latest in the series of creative ventures launched by the young husband-and-wife team, Teresa Dahl-Bredine and David Crosley.
Teresa Dahl-Bredine, who owns and operates Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery with her husband David Crosley, relaxes with a tall glass of their Amber Beer at the bar in the tavern they recently opened in downtown Silver City. At the right end of the shelf behind her are some of the decorative one-liter oak barrels in which people can purchase the distillery’s raw whiskey and age it at home. Displayed on the bar is a Little Toad Creek t-shirt, also available for purchase. (Photo by Peggy Platonos)
The two began their carefully researched and planned multi-business enterprise by purchasing the old Grey Feathers Inn property in the upper Mimbres Valley and opening the Little Toad Creek Inn there in the spring of 2012. In addition to artistically renovating the rural guest facilities and revitalizing the fine dining restaurant portion of the establishment, Teresa and David immediately set about creating a small brewery and a craft distillery on the site. Their beer and spirits were introduced at the inn last summer, and are now available at the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery tavern in Silver City.
The four types of beer produced on a regular basis by the Little Toad Creek Brewery are Helles Lager (the lightest of the beers), Amber (the most popular brew), India Pale Ale aka IPA (loaded with hops and a bit more bitter), and Porter (a dark beer).
Keeping up with demand for the beers in the new establishment has proved to be a challenge. "We aim to always have all four of these beers on hand, and we're working round-the-clock to produce enough," Teresa reports. "We expected to sell more volume in town than we did in the country, but not THAT much more. We were busy here instantly, and got hit very hard from the moment we opened our doors. A couple of weeks ago we completely ran out of beer. We were upgrading our facility to double the production capacity and had to shut down briefly. The beer's back now, though."
In addition to their regular four brews, beers from seven other small New Mexico breweries are also sold in the tavern, and Little Toad Creek stout is sometimes available. "We use a lot of the stout for cooking, however, and we run out of it fast," Teresa says.
Spirits produced at the Little Toad Creek Distillery and available (straight or in cocktail form) at the tavern include vodka, a Kahlua-like coffee liqueur, rum and whiskey.
The whiskey comes in two forms — raw and aged. "In order to qualify as whiskey, the product has to touch oak," Teresa explains. "So the raw whiskey we produce is filtered through oak directly into the bottles, and is sold without aging."
Aged whisky is stored in oak barrels. In its first year of operation, the distillery has produced aged whiskey in limited batches, with the aging process accelerated by storing the whiskey in small barrels.
"It's the contact with oak that ages the whiskey, so by using smaller barrels, we increase the surface area in ratio to the volume of whiskey and can age the whiskey in six months instead of the three years it takes in bigger barrels," Teresa explains. "Our aged whiskey is definitely our distillery's pride and joy. But so far, we have been producing the aged whiskey in relatively small batches, and it goes fast. The next batch is expected to be released sometime in April."
The opening of the tavern in town was accomplished with amazing speed. "We closed Little Toad Creek Inn for the winter on Dec. 2, and opened the place in town less than three weeks later," Teresa says. "People had told us they weren't really interested in having another fine dining establishment in town, so we set out to create a casual place where folks can come and hang out, have a drink and a bite to eat."
They came up with a menu that offers what they call "pub food" — but always with a bit of a twist. Yes, you'll find chicken wings on the menu, for instance, but the sauces offered as options with the wings are unusual and intriguing: Spicy Chipotle Peanut (my favorite), Mango Habanero (as one would expect, QUITE hot ), Garlic Parmesan, Red Chili BBQ, Teriyaki, and Toad Sauce (a mellower version of basic Buffalo wing sauce). The price is $8 for six wings, with $1 per extra wing. Other appetizers range in price from $5 to $12.96.
"We still want to be creative with the food. And we use good quality ingredients, including locally produced grass-fed beef," Teresa says.
The beef appears on the menu in several forms: ground in the Cowboy Irish Nachos (made with potato chips), chunks in Stout Stew, and as the Little Toad Creek Burger.
Sandwiches range from $8.96 to $12.50. Fish and pasta specialties run from $12.96 to $18. And there are the kind of interesting meal-size salads that have been staple items on the "Country Toad" menu, including Orchard Salad with Shrimp ($14.95), Chinese Chicken Salad ($13), and Asian Salad ($5 small to $9 large — with chicken or shrimp extra).
Popular almost instantly, the Little Toad Creek Inn was soon affectionately dubbed "the Toad" by its patrons. And no doubt the Silver City business will wind up with a similar nickname. The new tavern has been open for only two months and already there are proposals floating around, including "Toad Tavern" or "Town Toad" or "Toad Corner."
Whatever you choose to call it, the tavern is worth a visit. And March would be a good month to go, because they'll be holding several big events, starting with a Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, March 4, with Cajun food and the Rhythm Mystic band providing music for what Teresa describes as "a wild dance party." Costumes would be welcome, but are not required.
St. Patrick's Day on Monday, March 17, will feature "all kinds of fun green drinks, as well as corned beef and cabbage," Teresa promises. "We're trying to organize a Pub Crawl for the occasion."
And on Saturday, March 29, starting at 4 p.m., the tavern will host a Brew Fest sponsored by the New Mexico Brewers Guild. Beer from all members of the guild will be available for purchase, and several musicians will be on hand to provide live music.
Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery's Silver City tavern is open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — though the hours are often extended on Friday and Saturday nights as late as 2 a.m. It's closed on Tuesdays.
For more information, call (575) 956-6144 or visit www.littletoadcreekbrewerydistillery.com.
Send Mimbres freelance writer Peggy Platonos tips for restaurant reviews
at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (575) 536-2997.