by Alice Levitt
1930 Williston Road, South Burlington, 862-3653
I love food so much, I assume every restaurant is good until proved otherwise. And when I get a recommendation for a stellar brunch, I don't care where it is, I hightail it over there, believing every word.
That was what brought me to the Pour House last Sunday. It wasn't just one recommendation, either. A few acquaintances had mentioned that the Williston Road pub was a hidden gem, and 7 Nights critiques seemed to back it up. And there was a moose head, still decorated for Christmas. How could I go wrong?
Clearly, the folks I'd heard from weren't the only aficionados. Around 12:30 p.m., we got in line for a 10-minute wait. The large space was packed with sports fans watching a game and scanning the museum of local teams' treasures, but more of the crowd was there enjoying a beer with eggs or pancakes. That's right, the Pour House is the kind of place where there's no shame in starting the day with a brewski.
There were almost as many brunch specials as there were dishes on the regular menu and it all sounded good. But I couldn't help but settle on the "Irish eggs Benedict," described on the bill of fare as the house special.
It was an unconventional Benedict to say the least. The smallish plate was packed with cubes of potato, green peppers and prime rib. A pair of poached eggs sat on top, bathed in Hollandaise sauce. Chewy, buttery, house-baked bread sat on the side.
That's right, this was a deconstructed Benedict. I wouldn't have minded if the ingredients had been of higher quality and been prepared better. Some of the prime rib was lovely, but many chunks were mostly chewy fat. None of it was seasoned sufficiently. Same for the potatoes. One of the eggs was runny in the middle and added a great punch of taste to the dish; the other was overcooked. The Hollandaise, while pleasantly buttery, also lacked flavor. Thank goodness for the wonderfully satisfying bread.
Perhaps baked goods are more the kitchen's speed at the Pour House. Those giant pancakes at right were fluffy and flavorful, some of the best I've had in the area. And as you can see, plenty of butter comes with them. I didn't use it, but I appreciated the gesture.
The Pour House platter was quite a deal, with those mighty cakes, two eggs any style, choice of meat and home fries for $9.95.
These eggs were prepared better than the poached ones, with runny, over-easy yolks as requested. I liked the crispy edges of white, too. The maple sausages were wonderfully caramelized on the outside, though slightly dry inside. Home fries, while satisfyingly crispy, weren't seasoned.
Maybe we hit the Pour House on a less-than-stellar day. Or maybe I just shouldn't trust every brunch recommendation I hear. Either way, luckily, there will be more Sundays and more egg-based meals to try.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.