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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Horny Goat Hideaway’s Fun, Pub Atmosphere

Enjoy pizza, beer and more along the Kinnickinnic River

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About a year ago, the Horny Goat Brewing Co. joined the proud tradition of Wisconsin-crafted beers and introduced a new brand to the area. In October 2009 the Horny Goat Hideaway opened in a former industrial building located on the banks of the Kinnickinnic River. With its fun, pub atmosphere, this spot could well change the image of this gritty, industrial neighborhood.

The two-story interior features walls that have been stripped down to their basic brick. A small bar that seats 12 is joined by tables on the main level and many more on the upper mezzanine. With its flat-panel TVs and electric dartboards, Horny Goat Hideaway is geared toward a casual audience. Outside, construction is under way with the hopes of soon adding sand volleyball courts, fire pits and boat slips.

The bar is popular in and of itself, but many of the patrons are here to eat as well. The menu consists of casual bar fare—think appetizers, burgers, panini, salads and flat-bread pizzas. Starters include the usual nachos, chicken wings, quesadillas and stuffed potato skins.

One starter that stands out is the “3 Little Pig Wings” ($7.95). Just what is a pig wing? It is a piece of pork with a small section attached. It is more like a lollipop, and may be the best innovation since the flat iron steak. The tender, succulent meat is like that of a spare rib (minus all of the fat). Choose one of four sauces: barbecue, teriyaki, buffalo or Dead Heat hot sauce. Dead Heat, at the upper extreme of hot sauces, is by far the spiciest.

The guacamole ($6.95) may not live up to its billing as the “best guacamole in town,” but it’s good enough, freshly made with tomato, onion and avocado. It is topped with chopped scallions when, perhaps, some serrano pepper or cilantro could add that missing spark. The blue corn tortilla chips are a pleasant change of pace.

A beer pairing is suggested for all items, even the salads. Currently there are six Horny Goat brews to choose from, some on tap and some in bottles. Try a pint of Hopped Up ’N Horny, a hoppy pale ale with a full body. The Belgian-style wheat beer almost hits the mark, but would improve with more alcohol content, since Belgian beers tend to be strong.

Beer always tastes good with pizza, and the flat-bread pizzas here are the best reason for a visit. There are 11 to choose from ($8.95-$11.95), plus a Build It Yourself pizza that you customize. The basic pizza, which comes in the shape of a square, has a homemade crust that is thin and crisp, a bit like a soda cracker. The standard base is tomato sauce and mozzarella. Large for a personal pizza, it is enough for two with side salads or appetizers.

One option for pizza is called the Inferno ($9.95). In spite of its name, it is nowhere near as spicy as the Dead Heat sauce. The spiciness comes from pepperoncini, giardiniera, pepperoni and the tomato sauce. The pickled peppers are used in moderation, which saves the pizza from too much vinegar.

You’ll also find a pizza of the day. On one visit, this took the form of wild mushroom pizza ($9), a version that deserves to be on the regular menu. This is a white pizza with a roasted garlic base. Provolone is added to the mozzarella. The mushrooms may just be portobellos, but the flavor is intense and makes for an exceptional pizza.

The sandwiches don’t fare as well as the pizzas. The burgers ($5.95-$6.96) are OK, with a tasty kaiser roll, but the quarter-pound patty is thin enough to easily overcook. The chicken breast sandwich ($6.95) offers small strips of bacon and Swiss cheese, but needs something more to perk it up. Avoid the vegetable panini altogether. The round piece of bread has the texture of Wonder bread and is not warmed up. The filling of leaf lettuce, avocado, mushroom, black olive, red onion and tomato is fresh, but this is like making a sandwich out of a salad without any dressing. Alas, even the mozzarella and provolone cheese fail to come to the rescue. Sauces are available on the side at an additional charge, however, so perhaps one of these would help out.

Luckily, the soups are another bright spot. A daily special of chicken and sausage gumbo ($2.95-$4.95) offers a great combo of okra, onion and rice, along with a kick of filé powder.

The Horny Goat Hideaway remains a work in progress. Once the exterior work is complete, the facility is destined to become a major draw. For now, the Hideaway is still a fun place to visit. Order a pizza and a side of pig wings and wash them down with something hoppy. This is what a beer pub should be.

Horny Goat Hideaway

2011 S. First St.

(414) 482-4628

$

Credit Cards: MC, VS, DS

Smoke-Free

Handicap Access: Yes