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Sonoma County Brewpub Guide

Kathy Weir and Bill Bradt
Janet Orsi

Corner Bar: Powerhouse Brewing Company owners Kathy Weir and Bill Bradt.

Powerhouse Brewing Company
268 Petaluma Ave. (Hwy. 116), Sebastopol
829-9171

Hours: Tuesday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, and Sunday, from noon; closed Monday (closing times vary depending on the live music and live bodies)
Credit Cards: All save Discovery and Diner's Club
Parking: Ample

Beer
SIX BEERS--the Blonde Ale, the Wheat Ale, the Extra Special Bitter, the India Pale Ale, the Stout, and the Powerhouse Ale--are elegantly presented in the 4-oz. sampler serving at an extremely reasonably price (sampler set is $2.50; individual pints are $3, glasses, $1.75). There wasn't one that wasn't delicious, though the Wheat, India Pale, and Powerhouse ales were superb.

Seasonal: Wheat Ale, Porter (they are currently pouring Stout), Nut Brown Ale, and Winter Ale.

Brewmaster: Donald Thornton.

Take-out/Keg Availability: Full keg, $134; half-keg, $75; 5-gallon keg, $48.

Food
FIVE OF US sat out on Powerhouse's wide, wrap-around porch on a recent warm evening, consuming the beer-batter onion rings with garlic aioli ($4.50): hot, thick wedges of almost tempura-style, deep-fried onion with a delicious garlicky dipping sauce; gone in a flash, the kids fighting--oh so politely--over the last bits. The traditional "Buffalo style" chicken wings ($6.95) fared less well, primarily because we weren't a spicy group, and the hot sauce coating the meat was more than our poor mouths could bear, even at low wattage. However, the wings themselves were plump and meaty. And greasy--a designation the onion rings shared. It was a 10-napkin night.

The mixed green salad ($4.25) was restrainedly dressed with a house-made viniagrette on top of fresh Sonoma greens. Main courses included the Powerhouse hamburger ($6.95), which was pronounced "perfectly cooked" by the eatee--a professional chef--and came with a cup of tomato-basil soup that tasted less like soup than like an excellent pasta sauce. When the burger-eater mistakenly thought that he would get fries and soup in what is actually an either/or deal, the sweet Scottish server brought him hot, salty, crisp, thin, homemade french fries gratis.

The 9-year-old sat happily before his fettuccine with chicken ($10.95), a plate large enough to sate him and feed three others the next night. Served with large chunks of chicken breast on fresh pasta in a tarragon-infused cream sauce full of shallots, this was better than traditional pub fare. Fish and chips ($7.95) were double-ordered by two souls who almost refused to share. Again--greasy, but delicious. For dessert, we groaningly shared a sinfully thick and light coffee-flavored cheesecake ($4.50), made in-house.

Service
SERVICE WAS EXCELLENT: Our waiter never pretended not to see us (a trick I once perfected on the floor), and other servers filled in as needed so that drink orders and hot plates didn't sit. In charge of note-taking, the 9-year-old made this notation: "The waiter isn't sulky." Indeed.

Ambiance
THE POWERHOUSE is the county's New Orleans in drastic miniature, with terrific Cajun-themed music shows almost monthly, and the decorations support this. Framed Mardi Gras costumes and sequined stuff dominate the dining room, as does a graceful mellow-wooded bar. Full of regulars on a Wednesday night, the place was dimly lit, thoughtfully soundtracked, and extremely inviting.

Din: Quiet midweek; check their music calendar before scheduling a romantic evening à deux on the night of a concert.

Restrooms: The women's room was large, clean, and roomy. The lipstick light was middling, as the bulbs cast that yellowish, it-can't-be-me shroud upon the skin.

Non-drinkers: The sober set has a wide variety of juices, sodas, espresso drinks, and fancy waters to choose from, and the setting is more restaurant than bar.

Fizz
CHEW, BREW, SERVICE, ambiance, restrooms. Great place!

Flat
SOME OVERLY GREASY (but very good) grub.
--G.G.

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From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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