by Margo Callaghan
Friday night was just incredible, thanks to the ionic activity in the air just prior to a storm rolling in, and the dinner menu at Barkeaters. Matt and I timed our meal perfectly, in that we could sit outside in their cozy patio area, thoroughly enjoying the outdoor ambiance and the new-to-me menu. Confession: I have been to Barkeaters for lunch a number of times, and have stopped by on many more than one occasion after work for a cocktail with friends, but Friday night was our first dinner there – and proved we really need to get out, (read: Barkeaters’ patio) more often! Here are just a few reasons:
Mussels and crab: these were our appetizers. My choice was the Prince Edward Island Mussels, because I can’t get enough of the wonderfully rich, citrusy garlic broth in which the mound of mussels are served…with two substantial chunks of perfectly grilled baguettes. You know where I am going with this: long after the mussels are a flavorful memory, I am still dunking the bread in the broth to sop up every drop. Matt, on his quest to have crab cakes at every opportunity, added Barkeaters’ cakes to his repertoire and was more than happy to do so! All I could vouch for was the colorful confetti brunoise of yellow and red peppers, since a taste was not offered to me.
Each in our own way, it was a surf and turf evening. With appetizers fulfilling the role of “surf,” our main courses were each of the turf variety. Mine was steak frites, and proved to be a beautifully grilled skirt steak atop a generous mound of crispy fries. This was a flavorful cut, prepared to my liking (medium rare) to fulfill my jones. Matt did the espresso pork. As much as I love coffee, a ground coffee-encrusted tenderloin would not have been a temptation for me to order. I’m so glad Matt did, and then shared it. I love being “wrong” about a food. That moment when the morsel in question first hits your palate, one’s eyes open a bit wider and the brain says, “shows what YOU know…” –that’s pretty much my story of the espresso pork. All I can think is that the savory bitter bean met a well suited mate with the richness of the pork drippings. The loin was served on a roasted sweet potato and cauliflower puree, with crisped onion strings on top.
And then there’s what we didn’t order, but were only too pleased to try. Chef Barbara Cote, who has been at Barkeaters since it opened last fall, made her way to our table with not one, but two pastas: thankfully, just for sampling and not full sized plates. One was Barkeaters’ ravioli du jour. This night’s variety was an inspiration from ravioli’s Slavic cousin, the pierogi, filled with rich cheese and potato. Cote added the sweetness of caramelized onions to dish, along with a creamy tomato sauce with bacon. It brought out the best of both countries. And in her other hand, she held a small bowl of lobster and fettuccini. Thank goodness this was just a sample: huge chunks of lobster meat in a classic alfredo preparation. To both pastas, I say, “viva la durum!”
And viva la owners Jack and Carolyn Kovac and Jennifer Sinclair for the attention to detail they extend to their Adirondack décor theme. Across the patio from Matt and I were Barb and Glenn Johnson who had walked over for dinner from their Falls Road home. Like us, they were so pleasantly surprised that when their meal ended, the server brought a miniature (good thing, yes?) birch bark canoe to the table, with pieces of house made chocolate bark as a Lagniappe and end to a truly perfect meal in a lovely setting.
If you haven’t already, you’ll find Barkeaters at 97 Falls Road in Shelburne Village, open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 am – 9 pm, and ‘til 8 pm on Sunday. Call 985-2830 for reservations.