Kyle Nabilcy is, among other things, a food writer. Jenni Dye is, among other things, a Dane County Board member. We'll be visiting a restaurant, cafe, or bar in each of the county's 37 board districts in a feature we're calling...The Hunger Danes
The end of April felt like it finally brought the end of winter in Wisconsin, and Kyle and I seized the last Monday of that month as the perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunshine with a drive to Stoughton. Downtown Stoughton is adorable, as all small Midwestern downtowns are, as if Groundhog Day could start happening at any moment.
And if if the windows-down weather wasn’t gravy enough for this venture, Monday evening happens to be “Mystery Beer” night at Stoughton’s Main Street Pour House, nestled in the bucolic District 35.
I arrived first and was asked to pick a number between 1 and 6, which determined the outcome of my mystery selection: an Imperial Jack Double IPA from Rhinelander [crafted in a, frankly, completely inscrutable brewing relationship with Minhas --Kyle]. Upon Kyle’s arrival, Scott -- our self-described “beverage coordinator” -- brooked no coy chatter, and promptly served up Kyle’s mystery beer, number 2: Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale. A fine beer, no complaints, especially for $2 per mystery.
Mystery beer night is described on the Pour House's website as their “last call” for craft beers, but the craft beer selection at the Pour House is pretty great to begin with, so the odds are in your favor. With the mystery beer cache more or less exhausted for the night, we both went with a brand new Lake Louie Apricot Goddess over dinner.
I had perused the menu before arrival and determined that given the Hunger Danes’ fondness for cheese and bacon, Tricia's Super-Cheesy Bacon Fries (which Kyle couldn't help but feel was a cosmic callback to a previous Hunger Danes episode) couldn’t be passed up. The sizable amount of fries arrived in a wooden canoe and had plenty of beer-spiked cheese sauce and a decent amount of bacon, but it was the onion and ale dip that we both wanted to put on everything.
And in fact, Kyle saved some to dunk the last couple bites of his burger into. A fine, build-your-own affair with bacon, cheddar, grilled onions, and Tabasco (a house favorite, from the look of the menu), the burger begged for something more. It was the creamy, beery dip that would have sealed the deal. Might've even fallen somewhere on the Bad Breath Burger family tree with such an inclusion -- not at the top, maybe, but somewhere at the charming small-town cousin level.
I chose the open-faced pot roast sandwich, which was plenty of food whether or not you’d also had a personal water-craft full of Super-Cheesy Bacon Fries. The sandwich itself had the right balance of pot roast to gravy to bread; the mashed potatoes, though, stole the show with a toasty flavor, reminiscent of a twice-baked potato. A vegetable medley also came with the meal and while the vegetables were delicious and had just the right char, it was impossible to compete with the rest of the meal.
Main Street Pour House is the type of place that makes it worth driving a bit out of your way, especially on a sunny evening that includes conversation with friends. Go on a Monday for a bit of craft beer mystery or any other day for great service, food, and craft beer selection -- and that gorgeous small-town Wisconsin downtown vibe.