Warm and inviting

The Pour House offers good food and specialty ales in a fun atmoshere

Server Kristin delivers a black-and-blue burger with one of the dozen beers on tap.

Server Kristin delivers a black-and-blue burger with one of the dozen beers on tap.

Photo By Matt Siracusa

The Pour House
855 East Ave., 893-3000,
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Happy hour 3-6 p.m. weekdays.

The Pour House

855 East Ave.
Chico, CA 95926

(530) 893-3000

“Is it my imagination, or are the leaves brighter and more vivid this year?” I was staring out Pierre’s passenger window as Colette motored down The Esplanade one recent gorgeous fall afternoon.

“Definitely,” she said. “I wonder if it’s because of that early hailstorm back in October. The trees might have freaked out.” She looked at me and smiled. “I know you did.”

“I did not freak out,” I said. “I was just testing out my new reading light, and the best place was under the bed.”

“You were under there for five hours.”

“I wanted to come out.”

“Then why don’t you?”

“Very funny. I was stuck. And what do you mean, the trees might have freaked out?”

“Cold weather causes photosynthesis to shut down,” she said. “The chlorophyll fades, and the leaves’ glucose turns red and yellow. “

“I was just thinking the same thing.”

“Right,” she said, laughing, as a cascade of brilliant yellow ginkgo leaves rained down in front of us. “Are you hungry? I say we check out the Pour House. It just got the first-place award for best new restaurant in the News & Review.”

I was a bit trepidatious. While Henri ordinarily doesn’t take much stock in online reviews (How cowardly, to review a service or product and not sign your real name!), he had seen a disproportionate number that, while generally praising the new restaurant’s food, complained at length and in detail about the service. Nonetheless, we decided to see for ourselves.

And we’re glad we did. We ended up going back four times in the span of a couple of weeks, and for the most part have had nothing but quality service and good food.

The Pour House Lounge and Restaurant is locally owned and, according to the description on the menu, uses local products whenever possible. The restaurant is small, but its high ceilings and well-spaced tables make it feel roomy. An adjoining full bar has 12 beers on tap and offers special prices on appetizers and drinks during happy hour and NFL (?) games. We did think it odd that a restaurant specializing in local products didn’t include anything from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. on tap, although they do sell Pale Ale by the bottle. There’s also an outdoor patio, with a fire pit.

Both the lunch and dinner menus feature sandwiches, burgers, salads, fish and chips and fish tacos ($7-$15). The kids’ menu includes quesadillas, chicken tenders and burgers (all $2.99). Wines by the glass ($5-$9) are mostly from Napa Valley and the central coast (nothing from locals Bertagna or LaRocca). Other wines are available by the bottle.

That first afternoon—the dining room packed with a lively crowd—we were greeted warmly and seated promptly. We started with a plate of delicious deep-fried green beans ($5.95) with a lemony aioli sauce with capers. My southwestern chop turkey salad ($9.95) included smoked turkey, black beans, roasted corn, red bell peppers, bacon, green onions, zucchini, cilantro and cotija cheese, piled high and dressed with an avocado-cumin citronett. Delish. Colette had the “drunken chicken sandwich” ($8.75), chicken breast marinated in a tequila-lime sauce and served on sliced sourdough with pepper-jack, onions, avocado, chilies and chipotle aioli. Also very good.

Subsequently, we’ve had the fish tacos (three for $7.95), large single pieces of breaded cod in flour tortillas with cabbage, cilantro and chipotle aioli; pesto chicken ($7.75), with mozzarella, artichoke hearts, black olives, parsley and Parmesan cheese; and the chicken picatta ($13.50), in a tart lemon-caper sauce with fresh herbs and served with sautéed vegetables. My favorite, though, was the seared ahi sandwich ($10.75), with ginger-wasabi aioli and Asian cabbage slaw. The only real disappointment was waiting one afternoon for more than half an hour for a black-and-blue burger ($8.75) to go. Fortunately my bloody Mary made the wait tolerable—and Collete’s driving appreciated even more than usual.