Longtime Phantom fans (or even just readers) likely are aware of the Phantom’s fondness for the Lancaster dining scene. Over the years, the Red Rose City has served up any number of fine and fun dining venues. Some have sadly gone away, some are still in place and others, thankfully, are newly arrived
One rather recent entry to the city’s mix of meal-makers is a place called Pour on artsy Prince Street. It’s the kind of place you’d mostly find only in larger cities. It has that urbane look inside: Warhol art on the walls, exposed brick, wood floors. And its servers are knowledgeable and eager to explain a different kind of menu.
There’s an impressive and extensive wine list (hence, one assumes, the name), an equally impressive and extensive beer list with 10 beers on tap, and a selection of small plates to share (or not) that all combine to make what for many is a different dining experience.
Not everyone enjoys small-plate dining, and the night my party of four visited Pour the place was packed and loud. But the beer and wine selections really are something and the food we got was great.
The more that was served, the less the crowd’s volume seemed to matter.
It would be a mistake to label Pour as a bar behind an art gallery, even though technically that is what it is, sitting behind the Artisans Gallery at 114 N. Prince St. But it would be a mistake to call it just a bar because the food offerings are creative and far from the usual tavern fare.
Take, for example, first-course options of charcuterie boards — charcuterie is dressed or prepared meats — that include hot coppa (dried, cured pork shoulder or neck) “dusted” at Pour with hot and sweet spices; lightly smoked pork salami with fennel; Serrano, a fatty, “marbled,” and therefore yummy Spanish ham; an excellent venison pate with sweet spices and roasted pistachios; and a veal liver mousse with local cherries and star anise.
Kudos to Pour for presenting something well beyond the more-common barroom choices of beer nuts, hard-boiled eggs, pickled pigs’ feet and date-expired beef jerky. (Wait, do they even have expiration dates on beef jerky?)
Also, the boards are only $3 or $4 and each comes with delicious house-made mustard and a fresh and tasty baguette. This makes it easy to share, but a word of caution: If you ask for more bread, expect a $2 extra charge on your bill.
There are gourmet cheese plates, too, with varieties from 2-year-old aged Gouda to imported goat and sheep cheeses. All are priced at $3 or $4.
At this point I should be a little more specific about the wine and beer because these dishes really go well with wine and beer. Wines by the glass (a half-dozen reds and five whites are offered) include a white Chilean sauvignon blanc called Nimbus and an Argentine chardonnay called Trumpeter, both priced at $9.50.
If you’d rather red, there’s a French malbec, Le Clos Triguedina, and an exceptional California (Sonoma) pinot noir, Howling Moon, each priced at $8.50.
Wine lovers might want to go right for a bottle. The cellars are large and the price range wide, from $34 for a Skouras St. George red from Greece, for example, to $95 for an Orin Swift Napa Valley blend.
There’s also sparkling wines and port.
As to the beer, the choice is endless. There are more than two-dozen domestics, including microbrews from all over the country (Goose Island from Chicago, Sixpoint from Brooklyn, for example) and a lot of imports from Germany and Belgium.
There are also specialty cocktails such as Pimm’s Cup ($7.50) and Money on My Mind (gin, St. Germaine, lemon sours, maraschino liqueur and a house-brandied cherry), $12.
After drinks with meats and cheeses, it’s time to move on to “social plates.” These are slightly larger, more filling servings of steamed mussels in sweet corn juice and beer ($10), for example, or hand-cut fries cooked in duck fat ($5).
Then come semi-entrées or “Pour plates” that include free-range duck breast with roasted garlic grits and asparagus ($24) and “pork & beans soup” with ham and bacon broth, white beans, kale and wild boar sausage ($10).
Those at my table ate hand-rolled fettuccine with pickled shallots ($13) and nuoc mam (Asian dipping sauce) braised pork belly with broccoli ($14). The pasta won rave reviews. The pork belly was extremely tasty.
There are desserts including a “chocolate pretzel” made of frozen chocolate mousse with caramel, cream cheese pudding and pretzel ice cream ($7) and a house-made ice cream three-scoop sampler (also $7) that we tried but, sadly, it was mostly melted and oddly flavored.
The bottom line here, though, is that Pour doesn’t follow the path of most Central PA eateries. It is different and delightful. It draws on local product and its menu changes with the seasons. It is, by all means, worth a visit.
114 N. Prince St., Lancaster; 717-290-8080, www.pouronprince.com
Hours: Closed Mondays. Open 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4:30-11 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Street parking or public garage across the street; wine and beer list; reservations recommended.