The former Vino 100 also sees itself as a provider of high-end bar fare. But if the ambitious establishment is to realize its dream, more seats and a better-organized wait staff are needed.
On a quiet weeknight, Barr's Public House is a great place to grab a drink, hang out, and take your time eating creative food. But head to the restaurant when it's busy and more than likely you will receive lousy service and cold food an eternity after you order.
We enjoyed the bruschetta ($5) very much, and you will too. Their take on what has become a traditional appetizer is served on herbed focaccia bread and comes with tangy goat cheese, tomatoes marinated in vinegar and olive oil, and slices of salty prosciutto.
The soup of the day both times we visited was a delicious garlic potato soup ($4 cup/$6 bowl) that contained large chunks of potatoes and bacon with a generous amount of cheese. It was anything but bland, as many potato soups often can be, and should be considered for the permanent menu.
We also highly recommend the chili ($5 cup/$7 bowl). Listed as a chef's special, it is prepared with duck stock, and ground pork shoulder provides the protein.
The lobster mac and cheese ($15) is a rich dish. The thick and heavy white cheese sauce engulfs the rotini, maybe a bit too much, and includes sweet lobster meat.
The charcuterie plate ($17) is a better-than-average appetizer option for a group of people to snack on while you wait -- and wait some more -- on dinner. It would be helpful for the wait staff to describe the tray of various meats and cheeses, which they failed to do, because it can be difficult for the untrained eye or palate to distinguish between the different options -- especially when the menu simply lists two cheeses without identifying them. With a few foodies at our table we were able to identify some of the items: smoked duck, prosciutto, and sopressatta. Overall, it is a pricey option, but worth it.
Leading off the tough-to-recommend items is the butter-poached salmon ($17), is cooked in a thyme butter cream sauce that is even heavier than it sounds. That was unfortunate because salmon is a flavorful fish able to stand on its own. Serving it over crostini was a nice twist in an effort to lighten the dish, but it's curious why it was served with whole roasted garlic cloves on the plate. Unfortunately, it also was served cold.
Other so-so items included the lobster BLT ($13) -- the bacon-to-lobster ratio was too extreme -- and the Bewilderment ($10), whose Buffalo meat was hard to distinguish from hamburger; the onion rings side dish was rather ordinary.
If we were not working we never would have made it through our second visit, which lasted two and a half hours. One of three different staff members which served our table asked us if we were ready for dessert -- and we hadn't even been served our dinner yet. We were given a drink that wasn't ordered and it was shrugged off -- and it's still not quite clear if we were charged for it. We had to ask twice for silverware, but our water glasses were topped off several times without asking.
What's the point of serving some of the best bar food in the area if by the time you get to eat it, it's cold?
Contact Bill of Fare at email@example.com.