Pour Haus: Beer selection better than food

08/07/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 8:25 PM

Editor's note: A fire reported early Thursday morning caused extensive damage to Pour Haus, which is currently closed. Click to read more about the fire.

When Pour Haus Restaurant & Tavern opened in March at Maple and Seneca, the menu got my attention.

All of the dishes somehow used beer in the preparation, which is a fun concept for a bar that keeps 30 varieties on tap and stocks many more in bottles.

But the food didn’t fulfill its promise, and though a recent visit to Pour Haus was oddly enjoyable, it wasn’t because of what we were eating.

Bottom line: Pour Haus is an interesting place to grab a beer and hear a band, but it’s not a dining destination.

Owners have dramatically improved the building, which went from being a dank gentleman’s club to a dank pizza place to a nicely remodeled, clean-looking neighborhood tavern. But they need to keep working on the menu.

ON THE MENU: Pour Haus’ food offerings include supersized bar food favorites, from giant mozzarella sticks to ginormous onion rings. There also are six different burgers served with refillable fries or chips, plus sandwiches, comfort food dishes such as macaroni and cheese and fish and chips, and several unique desserts, from beer-flavored cupcakes to beer-battered Oreos.

DON’T MISS DISHES: We arrived at Pour Haus hungry and thirsty for beer, and I was happy to find that my favorite Ace Pear Cider was on tap. My friend perused the menu of beers on tap and selected the Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA. Someone else in my party wanted to sample a bottled beer and asked for one, then another, but both were out of stock — a problem our waitress admitted was pretty common with the bottled beer list. He went with a draft instead.

We decided to start with an appetizer and liked the idea of pairing our beer with one of my favorite fried creations — fried pickles. An appetizer combo that costs $6.50 offered a choice of three beer-battered and fried veggies — mushrooms, green beans, onion rings, pickles, jalapenos or zucchini. We picked green beans, pickles and jalapenos, which arrived at the table in a paper-lined basket and coated in alarmingly fluffy fried beer batter. It was so fluffy and bready, in fact, that it was difficult to decipher a pickle from a jalapeno from a stray piece of fried beer batter. The finished result wasn’t bad. The breading was overwhelming, but it didn’t taste of old festival food grease as we feared it would upon initial inspection. It also was surprisingly not greasy, and the veggies tasted good dipped in a creamy, stone-ground stout mustard sauce. But a little of that appetizer went a long way.

The fluffy batter also coated the fish in the fish and chips ($8.99), and it worked pretty well with the flaky white cod inside. The generous serving, which came with a side of under-seasoned homemade potato chips, was tasty enough but just too much after the beer-batter-palooza we’d experienced during appetizer hour.

We also sampled two burgers — the Pour Haus Burger ($6.99), a stout-infused burger with cheese and standard fixings, and the Lucy’s Other Brother ($8.99), a take on the famous “Jucy Lucy” burger that is stuffed in the center with oozy, hot cheese. (This one added bacon and jalapenos to the center.) Both burgers were a bit too charred on the exterior, and the medium-well Pour Haus Burger was dry and chewy. The Lucy burger was more flavorful, but there wasn’t nearly enough ooze in the center. The thick-cut fries served on the side needed seasoning but were potato-y and good.

We also ordered the Fidel’s Cubano ($7.99), an interpretation of a Cuban sandwich made with beer-braised pulled pork, ham steak, pickles and Swiss cheese. Though it had the right ingredients, it didn’t have the right flavor, and the thin hoagie was overly greasy and overly charred — though the pulled pork inside was good.

AMBIANCE: The last tenant of the Pour Haus building was a short-lived pizza buffet, and its owners did very little to improve the dark, seedy-looking interior. I was surprised by how well Pour Haus owners had redone the place. They ripped out the nasty carpet, opting for cement floors, and added a bar attractively imbedded with bottle caps. Most important — they cut out a couple of windows at the front of the otherwise windowless building, allowing for some natural light. The dining room smells fine now, and had the air conditioning been working on our visit, would have been a decent place to hang out and have a beer. As we were leaving around 9 p.m., a loud but fun cover band set up and started playing, and Poor Haus’ potential as a nightspot became more evident.

PRICE RANGE: Appetizers are $3.99 to $8. Burgers are $6.99 to $9.99. Sandwiches are $7.49 to $8.99. Desserts are $3.99 to $6. The bar always has one of its draft beers on special, a pint for $1.50.

SERVICE: Our waitress was friendly and did OK considering she was working the floor with an assist from just one other employee, who also was manning the bar. He was nice when we went to the bar after the fact and asked him to rearrange something on the bill. Unfortunately, he deposited a giant wad of chewing tobacco in his lip just as we approached.

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