I remember this one Sunday evening a year or so ago — I’m pretty sure it was in October, but it could’ve been April — when the weather was absolutely perfect. I’d gone to The Gold Standard (R.I.P.) on West 7th Street with the hopes of finding the rooftop patio unoccupied enough for me to drink a cocktail and enjoy the breeze by my lonesome. To my good fortune, there was just one other person on the roof when I climbed the stairs, and she was already getting up to leave. It was about 8:30, and even the traffic cruising West 7th was barely a murmur, providing me with one of those rare instances when it would have been OK to be frozen in time. Or struck by lightning. Or otherwise never have thought another idea ever again. I couldn’t have found a more peaceful spot if I’d sunk into a Barcalounger shaded by a palm tree in a Disney-esque meadow, watching Bambi and Thumper nap. Possibly with a Vicodin and a bowl of oatmeal in my stomach.
Of course my reverie couldn’t last, because someone across the street at The Pour House saw fit to open every available door and window and blast dubstep — I’m pretty sure I saw a bird fall out of the sky. Here’s a pro tip: If you ever see someone look like he’s about to achieve total enlightenment, fall in love, or experience anything that’s even slightly transcendental, Skrillex at any decibel level is the most effective way to completely ruin that person’s pivotal moment. I felt like I’d tried on the most perfectly comfortable shoes ever assembled and then immediately stepped onto a path made of molten lava and hate. Even before The Pour House unwittingly shattered my mellow Sunday evening, though, the joint tended to stress me out. I don’t know if it was the particular wavelength of light in there or the people who tended to browbeat me into stopping by or because as a bartender a huge bar in the center of a massive room gives me anxiety, but the place always just set me on edge.
That Pour House, though, is gone, and good riddance. The bar/restaurant’s recent renovations have created an atmosphere that’s way more enjoyable. While it’s still as roomy as ever, the new PH seems darker — cozy, even — the old green-neon-and-concrete vibe chucked for a mellow, muted backdrop of unfinished wood and more cocktail seating. The place also has eschewed its reliance on macrobrews in favor of a white-tiled tap wall full of more than 60 beers, most of which are crafts, including highlights like Breckenridge 471, La Fin Du Monde, and just about every beer ever made by Founders. You’ll also find lots of other, local breweries represented by a tap or two. The menu, too, has been given an overhaul, also for the better. I can’t think of anywhere else I’ve ever had a sriracha chicken sandwich. And a good one at that.
What used to be the oontz oontz oontz adjacent space known as The Garage is now a game room, which amounts to just a big space with a large bar and pairs of pool tables, dartboards, and a few Golden Tees. The result of all of these changes is that The Pour House now feels like a place I want to be. With bands on the weekends, a daily featured draft for $3, and a Beer 101 class every Tuesday night at 7, The PH has evolved beyond neon and noise into something, well, classy. Save the serenity search for walks in the woods. At The Pour House, you should probably just have a good time. –– Steve Steward
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