Monday, April 2, 2012

Devils on Horseback at Pourhouse

Pourhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon
It was dead quiet at around 1 pm on Wednesday afternoon when I wandered into Pourhouse. The lunch rush was clearly over, so I got the full-meal-deal from the bartender about Pourhouse and the restaurant's pre-Prohibition concept, which is mostly reflected in the decor and wine. If you're interested in that, then I definitely recommend sitting at the bar on a late afternoon and quizzing the knowledgeable bartender. Food-wise, it's "simply made" home-cooking and bread made in-house.

I always look for strange things on the menu, so I ended up with Devils on Horseback, Pork Croquettes (okay, so this one isn't so strange), and Bone Marrow. Being a non-drinker, I asked for a peppermint tea. The closest thing they had was a chamomile-peppermint "Introspection" tea that came loose-leaf in a coffee press ($4!).

Devils on Horseback ($6)
  • This strange appy is prunes stuffed with Gruyère (cheese), and wrapped in bacon, giving you three contrasting flavours in one bite. There was also a generous splash of sweet-sour vinaigrette. An interesting combo and quite tasty.
  • The prunes here were sort of small, I thought. Six pieces, so this works out to a somewhat pricey $1 per piece, which makes justifying the cost rather difficult.
Pork Croquettes ($9)
  • Best of the three orders. Super juicy and tender pulled pork inside the deep-fried shell. Goes very well with the HP Sauce provided.
  • Each piece is slightly smaller than than a Tater Tot. For $9 you only get a small dish with maybe 10 pieces. At 90 cents per half-bite-sized piece, this is pretty darned pricey.
  • You're given quite a lot of HP Sauce, but since this has a strong, sharp, flavour, be careful how much you use on each croquette.
Bone Marrow ($14)
  • According to my server, this was a new item, added only about 1-1/2 weeks ago to the menu. It came on a cutting board with toast, a pile of pickled chopped onions and radishes, and a bit of sea salt on the side. The bone marrow itself was from one large bone cut into three stumps.
  • The bone and marrow looked to have been baked. The bone was very hot and remained hot for a long time, so be careful handling that and definitely do not try picking it up and sucking the marrow out.
  • The marrow inside has a soft jelly consistency and isn't quite as hot at the bone. It is also super-oily! You'll need the pickles and salt to help you force this down.
  • I tried various ways of getting at the marrow without too much oily fuss:
    • Scooping with the small spoon provided: This proved to be the least efficient way because you can only get a bit on the tiny spoon each time to put on your toast.
    • Loosening the marrow and pouring it out: What you can do is to use the spoon provided to scrape the sides and loosen the marrow from the bone; and to also chop up the marrow as well. Then tip the bone chunk to pour out the marrow right onto a piece of toast. This would have worked quite well if the bone weren't so hot (and oily) to handle.
    • Fork it out: This was probably the best solution. First, loosen the marrow from the bone, but be careful not to chop it up. Then, get in there with your fork. The marrow will essentially be one long (wormy?) lump of "meat" which you can try to skewer with your fork. Gently wiggle it out as whole as possible, then get at the remainder with the spoon.
  • Be generous with how much marrow you put on the toast. It doesn't look like there's a lot of bone marrow, but you'll dig out a surprising amount.
  • Probably the best thing you can do early on is to tip all the bones onto the side: Do your heart and arteries this favour and let as much of the tasteless oil out as possible. And get some strong tea. Peppermint worked nicely with a refreshing lift from the mint.
  • Unless you have some sort of craving for bone marrow, I would not order this, even for the novelty:  Way too oily, not enough flavour, and a slight stink to it. Also, some of the marrow was still pinkish, suggesting that it wasn't fully cooked through deep inside.
    • My mother used to boil bones with marrow with broth or soup she was making. This allowed the oil to come out first, and for the marrow to have a firmer consistency. It was then easy and fun to just suck out. There's no marrow sucking here, sadly, especially with the bone being so hot.
Bill came to $33.00, $44.00 after tax and tip.

Overall, the appys and small bites are pretty pricey. Heck, even the tea is pricey at $4! I might go back to try a proper main (maybe the house burger) and dessert at some point to see if those give you more value for your money.

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