By Jane Stern | Connecticut is undergoing a much-needed renaissance of coffeehouses that also serve good food. I am an admitted coffee fiend but, like me, you may have noticed that the big players in the industry serve really bad food, or no food at all. You might have a choice of a prepackaged biscotti or a sad little bag of chips. Sometimes a super-jumbo whipped latte with extra foam and caramel drizzle is just not good enough, we need more then a jolt of caffeine and sugar.
Enter Pour Me, one of the most delightful newcomers in the coffee house/great food genre. Happily, Pour Me serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter what time of day or night you go, the menu is much more then a sidebar to the very decent and lengthy coffee menu.
One of the best things about Pour Me is the effortless blend of healthy foods, vegan foods, vegetarian foods and “reckless” foods on the menu. It is hard to imagine that you could bring the most diverse group of friends with you and not find something for everyone. Another smart thing is that the meals are of different sizes. You can mix and match, sample this and that, pig out or just happily graze.
If you want a light meal, try the ricotta with pear toast and honey. It is four generous slices of bakery bread with robust cheese, fresh pears and a drizzle of honey. It is a simple dish, and yet the seasoning of the ricotta and the quality of the other ingredients elevate it. There are many versions of these charming “toasts” on the menu and all are worthwhile.
The salads are well constructed and use top produce. My favorite consists of a poached apple, goat cheese, arugula and almonds. Many of the dishes have goat cheese and in one visit the kitchen ran out of it. “Good,” said my dining companion who used to take care of a goat and had less then happy memories.
What did please my goat-hating friend was the Edamame and Soba Noodle salad in a slurry of minced garlic and ginger. She is a vegetarian and knows how, until recently, it was difficult to eat well at a regular restaurant. She had been stuck ordering a baked potato or pasta with nothing on it. Now that places like Pour Me have opened, she can dine like an ethical queen.
Another pal is even more of a chore to dine with. She is a vegan, which meant that when we went out she often ordered … nothing. Again, Pour Me is a perfect choice. The Vegan Poutine is a never-before-seen treat. It is a spin on French-Canadian poutine (puddles of rich beef gravy and melted cheese curds over french fries). The vegan version has oven-crisped fries under a cloud of “rocket fuel vegan chili.” The chili features red and black beans, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, kale and zucchini sprinkled with nutritional yeast powder. If you like regular poutine, it is also on the menu and makes a great mid-winter dish with about 100,000 calories a bite.
Another sure bet are the wraps, panini and personal flatbreads. My favorite was a flatbread topped with house-smoked chicken, homemade barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. For dinner (after 5 p.m.) I would recommend the half-chicken with fingerling potatoes. Done to a golden turn, the chicken is as good as any pulled from grandma’s oven.
The kitchen has a real knack with poultry and I would steer you toward the pan-fried chicken with portabella mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce, tossed with homemade ricotta and whole wheat and semolina gnocchi.
There are a few strange items that I did not get to try. One is a small “Aussie pen pie” filled with minced meat in a light crust sided with ketchup. It is on my list for the next visit.
I really love Pour Me. The food is great, the staff bubbly and bright and engaged with their customers. It seems like a very personal place where after a few visits you will become a “regular.” There is one small thing I do not like, and if you don’t care for a rant, please stop reading here. Let me say that this is a totally democratic rant and NOT in the slightest meant to single out this delightful place. It is meant as a way to hopefully stop a galloping trend.