Words // Sadie Williams
Photos // Lindsay Taylor
Nestled in a cozy building on the roundabout in Winooski is Our House Bistro, the “twisted comfort food” joint run by Matt Pearsall and his wife, Maggie Barch. While it is by no means the only fare available, Our House is best known for serving over 20 varieties of mac and cheese, including customer favorites such as Lobster Mac, Buffalo Chicken Mac, Jambalaya Mac, and more.
Pearsall and Barch opened Our House in 2010, in the building many remember as the former Sneakers. “We saw the potential of Winooski growing into what it is now, the whole community was up and coming,” Pearsall said, reflecting back on their choice to open shop in what has since become a go to culinary destination. The decision seems to have paid off. Our House just turned five, and in the past year alone has received recognition from all angles. Last summer it was one of three Vermont restaurants featured on the Cooking Channel’s Bite This with Nadia G; in October, the house Bloody Mary recipe received acclaim in the Chopped Best Blood Mary Brunch competition as the best in Vermont; and this January Pearsall took home first place in the Vermont Fish Chowder Championship.
What makes Our House unique is their approach to food. What’s most important, Pearsall notes, is “to have fun, to play with your food. We don’t want the food to be pompous, and we don’t want it to be too simple. It’s mom’s cooking but with a twist.” If the goal is to have fun, both the menu and the aesthetic of the restaurant itself succeed in that measure. Retro lunchboxes, toys, books, and vinyl records line the lipped shelf that circles the room; the display has proven irresistible to patrons of every age and often causes them to spend the first minutes of their stay staring at the walls rather than the menu.
However once they are able to redirect their attention, the array of options creates almost equal waves of excitement. Before even looking at dinner options, check out the cocktail menu on the table. While rum and coke may cut it for some, the array of fun, flavorful drinks shouldn’t be passed by so easily. Try the Good Morning Sunshine, a refreshing combination of muddled orange, Cointreau, and vodka topped with Prosecco, or the house staple, the Bacon Pineapple Jalapeno margarita with house-infused jalapeno tequila and bacon salt.
To start, try a basket of sweet potato fries with cinnamon maple aioli, a sweet and tangy accompaniment that perfectly complements the thick cut fries. Or if you’re feeling carnivorous, order up the Twisted Wings in either buffalo, barbeque, or my personal favorite, un-sauced wings wearing a generous dusting of parmesan, garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest. Just make sure to leave room for the main course; Our House portions are generous and filling.
If you’re a first timer, try a mac and cheese for your entrée. Can’t make a decision? The friendly wait staff will gladly help out. And if you still can’t make up your mind, order the Mac and Cheese Trio, a sampler board of three different macs. It’s as equally appealing visually, with its bubbling little cast iron crocks, as it is to the taste buds.
If you still have room for dessert, swing for the deep fried PB&J, a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich battered and fried until golden and fragrant, topped with a chocolate drizzle and powdered sugar, and served with warm, melted fluff perfect for dipping.
If you haven’t gifted your taste buds an Our House experience yet, get over there and check it out. They serve lunch until four on weekdays, a delicious brunch on the weekend, and of course a full dinner menu after lunch and brunch service ends. It’s recommended that you call ahead, especially Friday through Sunday, to put your name on the wait list, as Our House does not take reservations.