ADDRESS: 125 S. College Ave., Fort Collins
TELEPHONE: (970) 449-5601
HOURS: 11-2 a.m. daily
RATING: (Out of 4 stars) 3 stars
By all accounts, the Mainline restaurant in downtown Fort Collins has everything going for it to be super successful. This includes a prime location spot on College Avenue, a large, two-story dining space, a coveted roof-top patio and backing by the already wildly successful team of the Wyncoop and Breckenridge Breweries.
Add to that a completely revamped space, whose former tenant, the Beach House Grill, used fake sand pits and beach-themed game boards for its décor.
Mainline is now an absolutely beautiful space. Downstairs is ultra chic with its dark woods, sparkling yet tarnished tables, and regal yet modern light fixtures. Upstairs, nicknamed The Treehouse, there are elegant faux tree trunks sporadically placed around the large dining area, which centers around the large bar area.
But for a couple of items, the Treehouse menu is nearly identical to the downstairs menu. This is where my husband, Mike, and I planted ourselves on two occasions to find out if the food matched up to its surroundings.
Not quite. But first, let me start with the beer list since this is a brewery-owned operation after all. The list is not super extensive, but the choices and quality are top notch. A number of local Fort Collins beers can be found and, of course, the Wyncoop and Breckenridge breweries are represented, as well.
The menu is American with a distinctive Southern attitude. For example, our samplings included Crawfish Cakes, Gumbo, Fried Chicken Tacos, a Pulled Pork sandwich and a bacon-pecan bread pudding.
The Crawfish Cakes ($9) were my favorite. Fairly thin and small in size, two made for a modest appetizer. But they were also quite moist and packed with great shellfish flavor. The accompanying Louisiana remoulade sauce was good but very, very spicy.
The Gumbo ($6) was Mike’s favorite. Thick, hearty and satisfying are words that come to mind when I think of this dish. It was chock full of chicken, tasso and andouille sausage, rice and Cajun seasonings.
Mike and I were split on the 12-hour pulled pork sandwich ($9). We both liked the pork’s consistency, which was finely shredded and very moist. And it’s hard to be critical of a bun that is soft and warm. However, I did not care for the quite peppery, spicy, East Carolina barbecue sauce used liberally to cook and coat the meat. I prefer a sweeter version, but Mike found it interesting and flavorful.
The Fried Chicken Tacos (3 for $9), mini in size, missed the mark for both of us. The fried chicken pieces lacked the crunchy texture we were expecting from such a Southern staple. In general, it was an ingredient that just didn’t work in a taco environment. The jalapeno-pineapple slaw and smoked pepper sour cream additions would have been better suited to fish.
While hovering on giving Mainline 2-1/2 to 3 stars at this point, it was the Bacon-Pecan Bread Pudding with maple syrup that pushed me to the latter.
Unlike the main dish sizes which tend to run on the small size, the desserts (or at least this one) run absolutely huge.
The bread part is superb — moist, soft, warm and buttery in flavor. The topping of crunchy bacon, sweet maple syrup and rich pecans takes the sweet and salty concept to a new level of decadence.
Redemption in the form of dessert is always so sweet. But dessert alone cannot hold a restaurant afloat. Mainline has some work to do on the main menu in my opinion. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Shannon Teslow has lived in Windsor with her family since 1995.