It's probably not the best decorum to write a review on a business mere hours after it opens, but a) I'm not a professional critic, so what do I know? and b) I love being the first at things. So, I went with a couple friends to check out 'The Woods Alehouse' on Monday. It was the first day unlocking the doors to the public at this pub owned by the fine folks at Paddock Wood (micro)Brewing Company, and at the end of my experience it seemed to me as though they may have opened a bit prematurely. At the same rate, I was excited about all the things to come in the space, and to have another place to go for beer, food, and entertainment.
We showed up around 6pm on Monday night, and without much of an announcement from the Woods, the bar was about 30% full. Paddock Wood has a loyal following in this city, and deservedly so - they make amazing beer!
I'm always late for everything, so I was the last one to show up - my counterparts had already ordered a 12oz glass each of Cherry Monkey Barrel. That is the largest size they will allow you to order of that beer as the alcohol percentage sits at an impressive ~14%!
I tried a sip and opted for the Barrel Full of Monkeys as the cherry flavour was a bit too much for the start of the night. One thing we noticed with their beer menu is that there is not much for beginners here, as it is only Paddock Wood product. I love their 606 IPA but even that can be a bit too hoppy for your average beer drinker. Aside from the Czech Mate pilsner, most of these beers have very distinct flavours that may not bode well for the unadventurous. To be fair, I'm also happy that we have a place to drink craft beers exclusively, and why can't it be the intent of The Woods to cater to the adventurous?
A disclaimer on their menu points out the value of chemical free craft beer:
One problem with showing up on the first day of any new restaurant is the greenness of the servers. I was unfamiliar with a few of the beers and our server was unable to provide me with any information on them beyond the name. She was charming though and laid back, making jokes at every opportunity - and we're easy to please, so it was fine; It came across to me as almost being a family-run operation. The only thing I missed out on was trying the Yasigi, which I discovered (via the power of the internet) afterwards is a fruity, cloudy wheat ale. After a week or two of serving at the pub, these ladies will have all the answers I'm sure, but shouldn't the staff be well-versed on the product prior to opening the doors? Needlies to say we could have been more impressed here.
They have some really cool items on their menu, and it looks like their lunch will be a hit! I'll definitely be back to check that out, but as we were there in the evening we opted for every appetizer on the menu instead.
These were all really good, especialy the cheese fondue, and the kitchen can be excused for taking a while on the orders as it may have even been the first time they prepared these dishes for customers. My only qualm here was the size for the prize, getting all four dishes totalled thirty dollars and took the four of us under thirty seconds to demolish. Both of the dip dishes (the pretzels and the cheese dip) could have used a little more to dip with... We had to get more bread just to finish the cheese dip.
Perhaps this was another reviewer taboo, only ordering appetizers, but that was the consesus among the group - we were in a sharing mood I suppose. I will be back to try a legitimate dinner as there is something about The Woods that draws me in. They have found their own little niche in the downtown pub scene, and the room has a lot of character, sparse walls or not! I know they'll be filled up soon.
My favourite thing about this pub is that very notion. They have a room now, they have a good menu, and they have a beer menu that this city has already shown an appetite for through buying Paddock Wood. Now they can grow, influenced by the customers that come in. I think it will be exciting to see how this place changes over the years, and one thing that excites me the most is their little stage set up.
It's not a big stage, in fact, it's not even really a stage at all - more so, it's a stool and a microphone in front of every good venue's essential: a red curtain. I'm excited about this though because, since the Vive shows at Cafe Sola, our city has been lacking an intimate perfomrance venue. The crowd at The Woods will be an attentive one I can already tell, and I hope we'll get some songwriter circles, spoken word, acoustic performances, stand-up comedy, speakers, and the like at The Woods on the regular.
I quick look at the chalkboard on the way out tells me we'll see some great acts in the coming month, including "pub lectures," something that intrigues me very much.
All in all, when I left the pub I was slightly disappointed, perhaps because I had expected so much, and had shown up at such an inopportune time. But now, a few days later, I'm aching to go back and try a few more things, see what changes they've made, and show off a unique pub experience to some of my friends. The Woods got me, and I'll definitely spend a lot more time in there.
You can find The Woods Alehouse between 22nd and 23rd, across from Unreal City at 148 2nd Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK or give them a call for more information at 306-652-5883