Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Kid in Town Part 2 - Barnacle Barbecue

One would never know we were in a recession if you walked through my neighborhood. New restaurants have been cropping up everywhere. In recent posts, I covered one of the first to open, Haiku Asian Bistro. Two other Asian Fusion restaurants have followed suit. I was beginning to wonder if there would be anything different opening up. I'm all for Asian, but I now have three Asian fusion, one Chinese, two Chinese takeouts, two Japanese, and one Indian all within walking distance. Maybe I'd like something else once in a while.

I got my answer with Barnacle Barbecue. It replaced the now-closed Jolly Trolley in the same building. It's definitely not Asian.

I was very curious when I heard about its opening. Would it really be barbecue? Would if just be food smothered in barbecue sauce? Although the latter can be good, I would love to see some slow-smoked food in my neighborhood. I was very happy to hear that this was going to be real barbecue.

It has been opened for 6 weeks now and I finally went there last night. The evening did not start out well. When we arrived, there was no host in the front. We had to wait a few minutes for someone to show up and seat us. After a hostess finally showed her face, she said she'd go look and disappeared. Then someone whom I assumed was the owner came and greeted us and asked how many were in our party. The hostess reappeared and we were seated. They seated us in the front by the bar area. I'm so glad all restaurants are non smoking in New York now because I always refused to sit near the bar in the past because of the smoke. My instincts told me not to like the seat at first, but then I realized I don't have a reason not to like the seat. We were near the window, which is always nice.

The restaurant has a nice cozy feel to it. Although it's called The Barnacle and tries to have a bit of a beach theme, it doesn't go overboard with kitsch. It's a lot of dark wood and has a nice warm feel to it. They plan to build an outdoor deck for the summer that will overlook the harbor, so I'm sure it's going to be even nicer in the future.

Tables were set with a rack of sauces and instead of napkins, we were given small towels.

My photos didn't come out too well. This was the best one.

Our waitress was very nice. She was much faster than the hostess with her attentiveness and had a very pleasant personality. I suspect she was easily distracted though because she forgot to tell us the specials. I only found out about them because I heard another server mention them. I also saw them after I had ordered on a chalkboard to my left side (menus were on chalkboards all over the place in addition to the menus at the tables).

They have a full bar and there are wine lists on the tables. None of the wine bottles were particularly expensive ones. I had a glass of pinot grigio and Kevin had a glass of white zinfandel. (Hey! Wine for Dummies says it's perfectly acceptable to drink White Zin at picnics and barbecues. It's the sweet/salty thing!) The drinks were delivered in a timely fashion. There was no bread served, but I was okay with that. I'm trying to cut down.

You can order a single item or a combination of items from their barbecued meats list. I chose dry rub ribs and brisket. Kevin chose a half a chicken.

Food is served on these metal trays lined with fake newspaper. (You can see the towel covering my lap underneath). The sides pictured here are sweet potato fries and something called creamed corn surprise. The latter is this weird pudding-like cornbread/creamed corn fusion served cold. It was very tasty. The fries were okay, but I've had better.

As for the barbecue, it was a mixed bag. I really liked the ribs. They were nice and meaty and flavorful. The brisket could have been better. They had told me it was chopped brisket, but as you can see here, it was in strips. It was a little bland and not as tender as I would have liked. I ended up using a fair bit of barbecue sauce on them.

They make their own.

I forgot to take a picture of Kevin's dinner. He had a half a chicken. When I say "half" I don't mean four pieces. I mean he had an entire slab of chicken. It was a lot for him to attack and he did a valiant job. Since he is the kind of person to refuse to ever pick up anything and eat it with his hands, I'm not sure he got his money's worth out of it. He had cole slaw and tater tots with his meal, which he didn't complain about (although he may have complained a bit about the Napoleon Dynamite jokes I made).

Dessert was okay. I had fried ice cream and he had pecan pie. We wanted the brownie ala mode, but they ran out of brownies. They ran out of a few other things that night. I think I got the last order of brisket. The specials menu on the wall said stuffed pork loin was available, but I never heard a server mention it, which made me think they ran out of that too. I don't know if this is because the place is already immensely popular, or they are still learning about what is most in demand and how to keep up with it.

All in all, it was a good meal, but it could have been better. The place has potential. I would definitely like to go back in a few months and see if they have made some progress in working out their kinks.


noble pig said...

Yeah new resaturants can be interesting especially after you see their progress. The BBQ looks good but sounds like they have some bugs to work out.

At least there were no dishes to do!

The Blonde Duck said...

They need to talk to ME about bbq. It's the same way here--four new restaurants opened up last week in my neighborhood!

Lo said...

I'm still trying to get over the great alliterated names of the new joints... Barnacle BBQ... Jolly Trolley... sounds like something out of a young adult novel :)

Oh -- and for the record, my word verification today is "ingsest"... not sure what that means, but it's cracking me UP!!

Bunny said...

I'm the night manager of a restaurant , yeah they're probably just getting the feel of what people are going to order. It's a complicated business. At our restaurant there are days and times of the month that are busier than others. The waitstaff memb er that served you was probably inexperienced if she didn't tell you the specials. I'd certainly go back in a couple months to see what it's like then. It sounds like a nice place.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

It's allways nice to check out new restaurantes! They talk about crisis but there's a lot of things openning now.

Complaint Department Manager said...

Sounds like the brisket needed more rub and was cooked at too high a temperature and/or possibly pulled early. If I would have been there with ya, we'd have picked that place apart.

The one problem with opening up a new restaurant in the same building as one that failed is getting people to believe that the failure is no longer there.

Sue said...

It sounds like the kind of place that would fun to go to for drinks and apps. I just checked out the menu. Spring rolls and a quesadilla would definitely fit the bill.

Emily said...

I always enjoy your restaurant reviews. I'm jealous that you have so many restaurants where you live.

I think this place sounds pretty good.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Cathy - That's the best part about eating out!

Duckie - You are in BBQ land and probably finding good barbecue is so much less of an issue. I guess people are opening new restaurants now because rents are coming down?

Lo - I LOVE silly words!

Bunny - I definitely think both management and waitstaff have some kinks to work out. I definitely wouldn't give up on the place.

Cookie - Perhaps it's rent lowering as I said above or perhaps it's the fact that people are so busy trying to work enough hours to hold onto their jobs that restaurants are becoming more of a necessity?

CDM - I'd totally love to have had you there to rip the place apart. Someone needs to tell the chef how to do the brisket!

Sue - I'd definitely do apps here. I didn't order any this time around because I wanted to save my appetite for the big plates of meat. Maybe I'll try it again soon if I wnat to meet a friend for drinks and see what it's like then.

Em - Thanks for your glowing review of my reviews. I'll bet my waitress could have used some tips from you.