Houdini’s Escape Gastropub [Wisconsin Farm Fresh Bruschetta & Chili]
Food in the Fox experienced a first today, but let’s talk about other things before we get into that. Houdini’s Escape Gastropub on Oneida Street near St. Elizabeth Hospital is one of Appleton’s newest eating and drinking establishments. Opening its doors just a few weeks ago, the gastropub (i.e. a pub that serves higher end gourmet-style cuisine instead of typical bar food) is drawing very healthy lunch crowds.
And I Really Wanted to Like Houdini’s
The bar area was pretty much packed when we walked in around 11:30, so we opted to sit in the dining area towards the back of the pub. As it turns out, there is no service in that area during lunch; at least that is what it seems. We browsed the menu for a good 10 minutes without being acknowledge in any way, so we decided to move into the bar area. As mentioned, the bar area was near capacity and was uncomfortably loud between the loud music and ample lunchtime conversation. Given there was only one waiter and one bartender working the floor, it still took several minutes to be served after sitting down.
Okay, not off to the greatest start, but we’re pretty easy going people and it takes more than that to scare us away from good food. Well… we ordered the Wisconsin Farm Fresh Bruschetta. It looked very intriguing, almost like a high end breakfast bruschetta. The $8.00 bruschetta appetizer included sharp cheddar cheese, fried prosciutto (ham), an over easy egg, and pesto served on crostini (baguette toast). It is a great concept, but the flavor of the individual elements were completely overwhelmed by oil and salt; I could taste nothing but. I ate one piece (one without the egg) and that was enough of that. What remained was sent back to the kitchen, which was the very first time Food in the Fox has sent anything back.
I also ordered a cup of chili and fortunately restaurant chili is pretty much chili unless the restaurant tries to get fancy with it. Thankfully, Houdini’s Escape didn’t try to get fancy. Although the chili alone wasn’t enough to redeem Houdini’s, it was the perfect blend of flavor, texture, and spiciness. I like chili that has a little kick, and Houdini’s chili recipe does deliver in a satisfying way. You can still feel it after the chili is gone, but it’s far from making your eyes water while you eat it. On a side note, the chili is served with a packet of oyster crackers.
In the end, the waiter was kind enough to take the bruschetta off the tab without us asking him to do so, leaving me with just a $3.00 bill for the cup of chili. Our waiter was also very friendly and I think he was just a little bit too busy considering he was the only one working a busy lunch crowd.
See our most recent experience here.
Houdini’s Escape Gastropub
1216 S. Oneida Street
Appleton, WI 54914