When we walked into the Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday, the only area inside the large, brick building that was full was the secluded outdoor patio. Despite the temptation of the fleeting sunshine, we opted to sit inside at one of the booths and check out the airy indoor surroundings.
There is also a full bar, but a quick glance around told the tale: everyone was drinking the beer. So we went with two of the samplers (five beers for $6) and tested the hoppy waters. Rather than detail which ones aren't memorable out of the 10 they make in-house, I'll instead point you toward the Hefeweizen, which was incredibly light and stood out among the ambers and pale ales, and the Roasted Porter, which hinted at coffee and would be a great stand-alone pint, forget the food pairing.
Surprisingly, the secret ingredient (and menu) at Powerhouse is another "b" word: bourbon, as detailed along the "Bourbon Trail." Powerhouse's website (www.powerhousebrewpub.com) does not list the Bourbon Trail, nor did the hostess or waitress mention it, so it was a total surprise when we noticed it discretely tucked away on the table. The menu, which lists a few bourbon-based cocktails, also offers seven small plates that either incorporate bourbon into the food or pair well with the spirit.
So, to accompany our beer, we tried our waitress-recommended Breasts of Fire ($9.50), the Crab and Artichoke Dip ($10.50) and a unique selection from the Bourbon Trail, the Bourbon Egg ($5).
The Breasts of Fire was a solid recommendation, though I appreciate the waitress asking if we liked spicy; the torn chicken pieces soaking in a red chili cream sauce almost drew tears and the crostini was necessary to absorb some of the heat. The Crab and Artichoke Dip was also savory, but I'd caution you to order it only if you love artichokes, since they definitely overshadowed any crab.
While a hardboiled egg, wrapped with sausage, breaded and fried, then served with a bourbon-laced mustard might not sound like the best thing you could eat ... it is. At any time. The blend of flavors mixed with the tangy mustard in every bite almost makes you wonder if ordering a dozen would be too much.
Instead of a traditional entrée, I ordered their take on the Cuban sandwich ($10), but I was a little disappointed. For starters, the "seasoned" pulled pork lacked flavor and the sandwich relied solely on the sour pickles, red onion and Dijon mustard for any kick. Not to mention that although the menu promised jack cheese, it was hard to locate on the roll. The upside is that you can order sweet potato fries in place of regular fries - at no extra charge - and the thick, non-greasy sweet potato fries were the sandwich's salvation.
My dining companion went for the PNW menu staple, Fish & Chips ($12), which turned out to be lightly breaded and perfectly cooked. Despite the brewpub kitchen, the fish was not beer-battered or over-powered, so we could actually taste the fish without needing to slather it in tartar sauce.
All in all, I'd say Powerhouse is worth the drive to Puyallup ... IF you are coming in a group, looking for fun lunch or a quick bite with your beer. However, if you're searching for a full dinner, this isn't the spot for you.
[Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery, 454 East Main, Puyallup, 253.845.1370; open Mon. - Thurs. 11:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 11:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.]