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“Lovely building and refurb, slow service from the kitchen”
Review of The Barrel House

The Barrel House
Ranked #60 of 96 Restaurants in Totnes
Price range: US$5 - US$10
Cuisines: Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Child-friendly, Groups
Dining options: Breakfast, After-hours, Reservations
Description: The Barrel House Cafe and restaraunt is now closed - the Barrel House Ballroom on the second floor is only open for gigs and private events - please not do leave reviews for The Totnes Brewing Company here - that is a seperate business. We are currently waiting for Trip Advisor to close this account as it does not represent the businesses now occupying the building.
Totnes, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Lovely building and refurb, slow service from the kitchen”
Reviewed 26 March 2014

It's such a shame that this place can't sort it's kitchen out in the daytime ( have't eaten in the evening). The daytime chef is on show in the open kitchen and is not very busy, yet can keep you waiting for up to 45 mins for a cooked breakfast ( while popping out for a fag break) . it is s real shame because the building is fantastic, and it has potential to be a landmark in Totnes as much for it's food as for it's live music. When the food arrives it tastes good, but I have seen people leave because they just can't wait as car park tickets are expiring or their coffee/ lunch break is over.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
18 Thank HappyEater71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sarahkidd1970, Owner at The Barrel House, responded to this review, 27 March 2014
hello,

sorry to hear you had slow service - the open kitchen is a bit of a love hate issue for our customers - the fact is there is not a lot to see when food is cooking as much of it is in the oven. The weekends are very busy for us servicing two floors and we do not keep our food in heated trays to dish out speedily like a lot of places - everything is cooked to order. This weekend just gone we served over 200 breakfasts so we were pretty busy even if it did not look it. 45 Mins however is far too long to wait I agree - our target is no more than 25 mins when its busy - and we are in the process of refining our systems before the busy season starts so that we are able to meet this target. Thanks for the review - I shall be using it to labor the point with our chefs. I am glad you like the refurb too and hope you keep coming - if you come in Mon-Thurs ask to speak to me and I shall shout you a complimentary coffee and pick your brain about anything else we can do to improve the service. Sarah
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75 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    32
    17
    5
    8
    13
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Hygiene ......The chef”
Reviewed 10 March 2014 via mobile

I have never experienced a chef putting his hands in his mouth and eating food, then proceeding to handle food. Quite disgusting ! it's an open kitchen...what's he thinking it put me off my breakfast completely, he handled all of our food without washing his hands. Service very slow, won't be back

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
31 Thank Lekker70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sarahkidd1970, Owner at The Barrel House, responded to this review, 27 March 2014
hello - I have contacted you directly to find out when this took place so that we could speak to the right staff but you have not replied. We don't know when you came in and you did not actually speak to any staff at the time so I can only surmise you were actually okay to eat your food after all. As our open kitchen and cafe had been closed for the period we think you visited we needed to get more info from you about this - your vitriolic review and lack of response to a private mail from me, coupled with your one other very critical review of another business leads me to believe you have no interest in any useful dialogue and use Trip Advisor as a tool to channel your bad vibes. If you have a problem with service in any other business in future its actually much more useful to discuss it with the staff at the time so that they can help fix the problem and have the opportunity to ensure you have a good experience - try this in future and you might be pleasantly surprised. I would say all the catering and hospitality businesses in our part of the world, and thus the general work culture, strive to offer the best service possible and we do this by working hard and listening to our customers. People are humans and make mistakes - the best way to deal with this we find is to talk to them direct rather through an anonymous platform where there is no opportunity for a two way conversation. Your accusation may or may not be valid - I don't know as you have not given us any useful information to use despite my best efforts to communicate with you - so unfortunately I wont be able to do anything about it as I don't want to discipline the wrong staff. For your peace of mind I can tell you that all our staff have their Level 2 in Food Handling and we have recently received the highest rating possible from the EHO for our food handing practices. We have an ongoing internal assessment process to ensure the highest standards possible. Sarah, The Barrel House
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Devonport, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
513 reviews
300 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 272 helpful votes
“Different and good.”
Reviewed 4 March 2014

This was our first visit to the Barrel House. It was different. Funky, cute and comfortable. It was a little late in the afternoon when we arrived but the greeting was very welcome. We ordered tea and the best slice of flapjack we've had in a long time. It's ages since we last visited Totnes but when we do return, it will be to The Barrel House, for tea or lunch. Thanks guys, you have a good thing there.

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Worldstar44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sarahkidd1970, Owner at The Barrel House, responded to this review, 7 March 2014
Ahhh thanks for this review - we have just started making our own flapjacks so it's good to get this feedback - we look forward to seeing you again soon. Totnes is a great day out - especially when we have the Good Food Market - and when it's sunny!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Totnes, England, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
84 reviews
73 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Still a good place for coffee”
Reviewed 2 January 2014

We may be a bit slow but this was the first time we had tried the Barrel House after the recent major refit. It still has a certain funkiness and it was pleasantly Christmassy the day we visited. Staff friendly and the feel was family friendly on a Thursday morning.
We had a latte and a soya latte. Both were good, not over heated with about the right amount of foam on top. The coffee flavour was good although I would have like it a bit stronger, so overall it was good but not the best

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank DuriaAntiquior
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sarahkidd1970, Owner at The Barrel House, responded to this review, 10 January 2014
Hello - thank you for your post I am glad you enjoyed your visit. Our Coffee comes from Devon Roasery "Owens Coffee" and we make it to their specifications and are all double shots - next time you come in speak to the staff about seeing what they can do to make your coffee stronger whether it be a smaller cup or a different coffee to milk ratio. Several of the staff are experienced barristers and can adapt the standard coffees to suit particular tastes. Happy New Year.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
88 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
“Very slow service and poor quality food”
Reviewed 30 December 2013

We only went to the cafe so cannnot comment on what was upstairs or their other services. We waited over 35 mins for 2 bowls of frozen chips and a Welsh Rarebit which when it arrived was truely revolting. If we had not had very limited time left on our parking ticket I would have sent it back. I was also given a pint glass for my drink which is not good really when it is for a woman customer. There were 2 guys working in the kitchen and it was not that busy so can't understand why there was such a delay in service. I also don't like the idea of having to go up to order your drinks etc at a till rather than table service. Given that the cafe is very small I would have thought this would not be a problem. The waitress was polite but seemed to lack training unfortunately. I don't often give negative reviews but I really would not recommend anything about the cafe. Sorry.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
36 Thank SallieWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sarahkidd1970, Owner at The Barrel House, responded to this review, 10 January 2014
Dear Sallie, I am sorry you did not like your Welsh rabbit - it is one of the most polular items we have on the menu but it does have a very strong flavour and is not to everyone's taste. We are actually looking at a milder version at the moment with devon cider instead of guiness and a whole grain rather than dyjon mustard which we are going to trial with some of the regulars. The week between Christmas and New year was one of our busiest of the year and without knowing when exactly you were in I can only surmise that we must have been very busy upstairs in the ballroom with food orders on. I don't know what drink you had but guess you were expecting a tumbler? The fact that you had a pint glass leads me to believe that we were so busy that we were were running out of glasses. Some of our staff are fairly new but all of them have good bar experience so would know what glass goes with particular drinks. If you had asked for a smaller glass I am sure one could have been found for you. Our chefs may have not looked busy but much of our menu is cooked in the oven or under the grill (this is how the welsh rabbit is cooked) so there is not much to see when when we have check on - it is quite frustrating I know to be waiting for your food and wondering what the chefs are doing. With regards to ordering at the counter/bar - as a cafe this is normal practice - I don't know of any cafes in Totnes that have table service. Unlike larger towns and cities trade in Totnes is very rarely busy enough to warrant the staffing needed to deliver effective table service and it is not practical to offer this only on the quite rare busy days in town. We did in fact trial this earlier this year but found it was not what Totnes wanted and the cost was also prohibitive which is a shame as ideally this is what we would like to offer. Having re-located from London it is suprising to us that running a catering business in Totnes has quite different needs to a business in a larger town or city. If you come back to Totnes I hope you give us another go - the Ballroom upstairs is a lovely room to chill out after the walk up the hill and if you do have any issues please speak to a member of staff who would be happy to help. There are lots of great cafes in Totnes but we are one of the few that make our food from scratch and use locally sourced ingredients.
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