New restaurant puts Southern twist on Californian gastropub
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Nathan and Paige Simandle formerly lived in the “Goodland,” the nickname given to Goleta, California. When they moved to Madison more than a year ago, they brought the “Goodland” with them.
“When we drove down Interstate 565 for the first time, I noticed the beautiful tall, pine trees,” Paige said. “I turned to my husband and said, ‘This is the goodland, too.’”
That scene of tall pine trees adorns the wall of their newly-opened restaurant on County Line Road, Goodland Pour House. The restaurant, opened Nov. 5, is the couple’s take on the Californian Gastropubs Nathan cooked in on the West Coast.
“I love cuisine from all over the world, and I like to pair it with beer. I like to do my own spin on Mexican, Chinese – just making food eclectic,” Nathan said. “When I was looking at items for our menu, I wanted to do an artichoke and kale dip but decided to put a Southern twist on it and use collard greens and pimento cheese. It really worked. People are always asking for the recipe.”
Nathan, a chef for more than 20 years, developed a passion for the kitchen when he was a teenager, cooking snacks for his friends. He attended culinary school in Santa Barbara, and the rest he said “just came together.”
“I used to watch this show called Great Chefs of the World. I was fascinated,” Nathan said. “I watched cooking shows before the Food Network became famous.”
Although the restaurant employs a line of cooks, Nathan cannot resist contributing in the kitchen. His favorite item on the menu is the Detroit pizzas, for which he makes the dough from scratch daily.
“There is something about making the dough – something about watching it rise,” Nathan said. “I hope the customers like it, because it is like my child.”
Customers have responded well to another item on the menu, the Cake Shake. This dessert overload begins with a thick chocolate shake, topped with a huge slice of moist chocolate cake. The glass rim is covered in frosting and sprinkles. “I have seen other places do it, so I had to bring it here. It’s so over the top,” Nathan said. “It’s perfect for sharing, and where we can slip more chocolate in, we do.”
These unique menu items were not created overnight; Nathan has been perfecting his recipes over the years. They are from notes and from recipes that have gotten lost and rediscovered. Just like the recipes, the idea for the Simandles’ first restaurant has been in the planning for years.
“I have kept a notebook with all of our ideas in it; everything we envisioned for years was written down,” Paige said. “For instance, the color yellow you see in the restaurant was planned. We wanted a minimalist decorated place to sell beer that created a comfortable place to hang.”
The planned decor of yellow, faux brick and black and white murals became a family project with the Simandles’ two sons, 16-year-old Elliot and 14-year-old Owen, chipping in to help install parts of the faux brick wall.
The personal touch is seen in everything from the handwritten beer tap signs to the carefully thought-out rotating food and beer menu. Nathan said he loves craft beer and wants to ensure repeat customers can try something new with the rotating beer taps and someone who has not tried a craft beer can be introduced to a variety. “The craft beer industry is relatively new here. It’s still growing,” Nathan said. “It’s a great time for us to be here.”
Putting in close to 100 hours a week, the Simandles said they are dedicated to making their new establishment a community hub where people return week after week. They want the restaurant to be fun and accessible. Music and catchy food item names add to the vibe. “I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, so I like to use nostalgic references,” Nathan said. “We want people to be able to come dressed up or in their Uggs and sweatpants.”
Besides serving quality food and offering a comfortable environment, the Simandles want their restaurant to a part of the community, with a focus on giving back as much as possible. The establishment’s manager, Anna McCormack, coordinates the Weekly Spaghetti Wednesday, where $5 of each $10 all-you-can-eat pasta is donated to a local charity.
“We do want to be more than just a restaurant,” Nathan said. “We like the neighborhood feel of our location. We can always put in the hours and take home enough money to survive, but giving back will always be a part of our business.”