Review: Try the elevated American comfort food at Pooch’s Pour House in Westerly
We have been talking about it for a while and finally got to Pooch’s Pour House in downtown Westerly, which opened last May in the space occupied by the former Malted Barley.
This is a true sports bar, but it is a welcoming place for anyone who is thirsty or hungry. It was quiet the early Wednesday evening that we visited, but still there was a mix of customers, including parents with children, senior citizens, work colleagues, and a big table of guys waiting for a televised game to start.
The beer menu is extensive – I counted 31 choices on the draft menu – and 25 more in bottles or cans, as well as wines, canned cocktails, specialty drinks, and a full bar. But we came for the food.
They have starters, wings, salads, soups, flatbreads, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and plates like pan-seared scallops ($29), braised short ribs ($26), and house made pappardelle with Bolognese ($24).
Our waitress, Jillian, who was also the bartender, was awesome, and she offered some suggestions but assured us that, whatever we ordered, we would not be disappointed. We spent some time studying the menu and finally decided on a mashup to share.
Among our favorites was the veggie flatbread, $14, that was topped with sauteed peppers, squash, and asparagus, and melted mozzarella cheese. It was a good-sized helping and arrived piping hot. The bread was soft and flavorful, with just the right amount of crispy, and with the sauteed veggies and the gooey cheese, it was satisfying on a cold fall night.
We also marveled at the macaroni and cheese, $17, not the usual dish we go for, but one we couldn’t resist after seeing it delivered to a nearby table. What is better than cooked elbow pasta mixed with cheddar, American and mozzarella cheese, dusted with toasted panko breadcrumbs, and served up in a cast-iron skillet? Oh, my golly. It was wicked good.
From the burger menu, we settled on the Mexican version, $18, which was an eight-ounce patty topped with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, avocado, lettuce, and tomato. It was served on a brioche bun, and we upgraded from the French fries to onion rings for $3 more.
The burger arrived rare, as ordered, and was very, very good, but my onion-ring-loving dining partner, who often moans about how few places serve onion rings these days, nominated Pooch’s version for five gold stars.
They were big thick cuts, perfectly coated in batter and deep fried to a golden hue, and served hot. The burger was perfect, too, flavorful, with the patty smothered under the veggies between the two halves of the soft roll.
We also tried the arancini, $13, and the buff-a-que wings, eight for $14 served with ranch or blue cheese dressing, celery, and carrots. The buff-a-que is a mix of buffalo and barbecue and they were standard sports bar wings. Nothing to shout from rooftops about.
Our least favorite were the arancini, balls of rice and mozzarella, breaded, and fried. They were served over marinara sauce and drizzled with balsamic glaze. Surprisingly, the marina and balsamic glaze were a nice combination, but the arancini could have been warmer and a little less dense.
Pooch’s is a popular place with locals and visitors, and it is clear why. The owners are well known in town, and they run a good business with tasty food and great service in a friendly atmosphere. New restaurants continue to open in downtown Westerly, and they all seem to be thriving. Next time you visit, stop into Pooch’s for a beer and a meal, and enjoy the friendly vibe.
42 High St., Westerly
Search Pooch’s Pour House to find their website and Instagram
Atmosphere: This is a sports bar and restaurant that is located in the home of the former Malted Barley. There is an oversized bar and high tops at street level, and additional space both upstairs and downstairs. The restaurant’s rear windows look out over the Pawcatuck River and there is outdoor seating riverside off the lower level. Multiple televisions mounted on the walls are tuned to sports channels.
Cuisine: Elevated American comfort food
Alcohol: Full-service bar with an extensive list of beers
Hours: Monday and Tuesday 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Prices: Big portions for fair prices
Credit cards: Yes
Handicapped accessibility: Yes
Outdoor seating: Yes
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