Downtown Fargo will have a new fresh, fun, laid-back dining option when Pounds opens in the Beefsteak Club building on 1st Avenue on June 8. The cozy, clubby interior is long gone, replaced by bright white walls, powder blue accents and pale wood tables for a fresh, pared-down atmosphere.
This is definitely not a white tablecloth place. And the transformation goes deeper than just aesthetics. Partners Alan Kasin, Scott Motschenbacher and Brandon Herz want to inject a sense of fun back into downtown dining. And they’re doing it with a gleefully adventurous menu, made from scratch food and a sense of humor.
“We want this to be the place we want to hang out — more laid-back, more bang for your buck,” said Alan Kasin, who handles front of house operations and marketing for the restaurant. “Eating at a place should be an experience as well as a way to fill your fuel tank.”
The 38th parallel burger, topped with house-made kimchi, cilantro, pepper jam, and yin-yang sauce and served with fried green beans. Photo provided by Pounds
“I feel like everyone’s got to get out of their comfort zone,” Alan continued. “People in Fargo deserve more than that. We use really simple things — beer, flatbreads, burgers — and use that as a bridge to more complex flavors.”
When Alan says complex, he means it. Culinary influences at Pounds are all over the map. The menu features house-made kimchi alongside regional favorites like poutine, fresh rhubarb cocktails and a sloppy joe sandwich served with Lays potato chips on top for a little extra crunch — and a nod to an unofficial cookout tradition.
This playful streak runs throughout the menu. There are salads named after Barenaked Ladies lyrics and an Elvis-inspired Graceland burger featuring Nutella, bananas and candied bacon.
Strawberry Rhubarb Mojito, photo provided by Pounds
Things really get fun on the Midwest Martinis menu. Irked by the high prices and esoteric ingredients on a typical martini list, the crew at Pounds brought their menu down to earth with flavors and garnishes typically found at picnics and on kid’s and dessert menus — think mini donuts, marshmallows and jello cubes. The Dirt ‘N’ Worms martini even features a crushed Oreo cookie rim and gummi worms (along with vanilla vodka, Frangelico and creme de cocoa) for a boozy take on a kids’ classic.
Speaking of kid’s menus, there’re plenty of fun touches for the little ones at Pounds, too. Gummi worms and Swedish fish show up in kiddie drinks as well and LEGOS will arrive tableside instead of crayons.
The menu is clever, but the trio is dead serious about fresh, made from scratch food and interesting flavor combinations. Pounds makes as much as possible from scratch, including the restaurant’s signature condiments like ale ketchup (made with Fargo Brewing Company’s Stone’s Throw beer), Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce and homemade ranch dressing.
Skirt steak sandwich with sautéed brussels sprouts. Photo provided by Pounds
“Yeah, it’s a kind of a pain in the butt to make, but we’re doing it right,” laughed Scott Motschenbacher, executive chef at Pounds. (If his name rings a bell, it’s because he held the same position at Beefsteak Club, where he made a name for himself both in the kitchen and in local media.)
Prices are comparable to a sit-down chain restaurant because the trio wants patrons to be able to come often and not think of good food as something that’s only for special occasions or for certain types of people. “We want to be accessible to everybody, not just people with deep wallets,” Scott said.
612 1st Ave N
Fargo, North Dakota
Bus: Routes 15 and 18
Mini vanilla cheese cake with candied bacon, strawberries and chocolate porter sauce. The full-size version is available on the dessert menu.
Have you been to the special dining events at Pounds yet? What did you think? What are you excited to try?
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This project is supported in part by a grant from the fabulous people at North Dakota Tourism.