The PubScout pays a visit to Durham-based Ponysaurus Brewing’s new outpost in Downtown Wilmington.
What’s a Ponysaurus? It’s a different animal. A very different animal.
Don’t get me wrong. The beer is good. Very good, in fact, though it’s not brewed on the premises. It’s brewed in Durham and shipped to ILM. But that matters very little. What Durham sends is really good beer.
My Don’t be Mean to People beer (with a matching shirt worn by camera-shy Assistant Manager Sam ) was truly an outstanding beer (was that molasses I tasted?). And the sample given to me by smiling, bubbly Kattie of the Belgian Reserve was off the charts, its 10% ABV notwithstanding. You want a fireside beer to wait out winter? Grab a few Reserves, but drink them at home.
But Ponysaurus (there are two more in Durham and Raleigh owned by Nick Hawthorne-Johnson and David Baldwin) is nothing if not different, starting with its logo — a horse — with Tyrannosaurus arms. With its roots in an attic — not a garage — Ponysaurus was probably destined to have unique logo.
The ILM iteration, housed in a building that was once home to a law firm, has two floors — a bustling and busy bottom floor with barstools and booths, and a quieter, more private upstairs area.
Ponysaurus is both inviting and clean, and it caters to a wide age group, including children. Fur babies are allowed outside.
Oddly, though, your bar tab will be separate from your food tab, a minor inconvenience, which irked my barstool neighbor, Azra, as well, and we wondered whether the bar side of the business was separate from the food side.
In fact, just to order food at the bar, you have to spread your legs and look down on the riser beneath your barstool to scan the QR code embedded thereon, and it brought up the rather extensive menu.
Ponysaurus advertises itself as a Pizzeria and Biergarten.
And the food, at least the vodka sauce pizza I had, was quite exceptional, though the system automatically included a 20% tip. I usually tip pretty well (my bar server got a 50% tip), but I like to be given the tipping discretion. I guess I’m old school.
And in this case, it was just for having a server bring my pizza to the bar. That might not have been a major issue if I had not had to uproot myself from my seat and search to find a few serving plates and napkins myself — which Azra said was a required duty of the customer. If anybody deserved a tip, I did.
It’s a bit awkward, for sure, though no more than a pony with T-Rex arms, and the friendliness of the bar staff more than made up for the inconvenience. Pleasant and friendly, my server Kattie (pronounced Kay-Tee) could not have been more accommodating. There were 24 beers on tap, seven of which were not Ponysaurus beers but beer from Brunswick Beer and Cider in Leland. The Ponysaurus beer menu is varied and quite extensive.
There is also wine on tap, and, surprisingly, cocktails on tap.
But my buddy Father Dave and I were there for the suds, and while I had the deliciously interesting Don’t Be Mean To People, Dave had a Scottish Ale recommended by Kattie. It was good, he allowed, but the IPA he ordered when his glass was empty went better with the two slices of pizza I gave him.
I mean, who drinks a Scottish Ale with his pizza besides Father Dave and maybe Robert Burns? From our seats near the ordering sections we saw many folks order that same IPA, so it must already have a following. Not bad after being open just a week.
Trying to access Ponysaurus by coming up Market Street from Front was a challenge, what with street construction, but the challenge was worth it. Ponysaurus, a nice addition to the beer and food scene in ILM, was packed and looks to have a very bright future once the warmer weather comes and its outdoor biergarten is at full capacity.
Want to go?
214 Market Street, Wilmington
Open seven days a week, 11 am to 11 pm