Report Card: Barrel 44

Barrel 44 in the Short North

Barrel 44 in the Short North

Barrel 44 - Short North on Urbanspoon

http://www.barrel44.com/shortnorth.html

Overall GrubGrade C+

 

The Breakdown:

 

Atmosphere: Grade B-: Barrel 44 is a whiskey bar located in the Short North. Inside, the place is small and quaint, and looks exactly like what you would expect a whiskey bar to look like. The inside is dominated by a large bar that is surrounded by black and white pictures and some battered tables, which gave the place an authentic feel. When we arrived, we were the only ones dining. We thought the music was a little loud, and we could imagine a raucous environment when the place fills up. Initially, Barrel 44 came off as really clean and tidy, but once we unwrapped our silverware, we found it to be absolutely disgustingly dirty. Hopefully, the silverware wasn’t a harbinger of bad things to come.

High marks: Quaint and authentic looking

Low marks: Music a little loud, really dirty silverware

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Service: Grade B-: Our server swapped out our silverware once we pointed out how dirty it was and we were off and running. Our server was pretty short, which we have no problem with except that every time she went behind the bar we completely lost track of her – like not being able to see that really ancient lady from behind when she’s in the driver’s seat. Service was alright, though. We had a little bit of a wait for our food, which seemed odd since we were the only ones in the restaurant. Our service was accurate, but it was kind of just blah. I would have expected more with nothing else to distract our server. If you really want to hear what great service is like, make sure you check out the next post.

High marks: Accurate

Low marks:   Slow service, hard to keep track of server

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Food/Spirits: Grade C+: For drinks, Katina ordered something called an Irish Spring and I just had a beer. The Irish Spring was really tasty. It had a nice mix of sweet and sour with some peachy undertones. For our appetizer, we ordered the Chili Mac & Cheese. The Chili Mac & Cheese was cheesy and hardy, with a couple of different types of beans and corn thrown into the mix. All of the flavors really mixed well, and no one flavor dominated the dish. It was very well balanced. However, from there the food went downhill. For her entrée, Katina ordered the Barrel Bourbon Burger cooked medium-well. What she received was a burger cooked medium. Again, we still seem to have trouble getting restaurants to nail the medium-well burger (here’s a hint – if there’s a pool of blood beneath the meat, it probably needs to be cooked longer. So, Katina spent half the meal tearing off the bloody parts of the burger, which left a nice clump of mauled meat on her plate when she was done. She thought the parts she did eat were fine, but she couldn’t taste the bourbon glaze that was supposed to come with the burger, and actually the fries were the best part of the entrée. That says it all. I opted for the Shrimp and Sausage Flatbread. Not going to sugar coat it, my friends – it was pretty gross. The shrimp were a little too large (non-jumbo shrimp would have probably been better from a texture standpoint), and the sauce/salsa was just all wrong. It was too sweet and it completely dominated the dish. I couldn’t even taste the Andouille sausage, which has some pretty strong flavors (it didn’t help that there were only a few small bits of sausage on the whole flatbread). I was really disappointed.

High marks: Good drink and appetizer 

Low marks: Burger not cooked to correct temperature, flatbread was not good

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Value: Grade C: The driving force for the value score in this instance is a lack of quality. Considering the low food quality, reasonable portion sizes, and the fact we each only had one drink, we feel like we overpaid. Unfortunately, we recommend you all pass on this one. There are plenty of other places to eat in the Short North.

High marks: None

Low marks: Low quality means poor value

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