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“Not a Huge Fan”

Barrel House American Bar
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Ranked #13 of 134 Restaurants in Beverly
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$31 - US$50
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: essex street
Reviewed 3 November 2013

We had experienced a tasting menu from the Barrel House so we knew what to expect. Upon entering we were promptly escorted to a table for 4, the restaurant was full and busy. THere was a cold draft coming right down at us that was very uncomfortable. We asked that the air conditioning be adjusted and it was for a brief period of time but then the cold blast came again. The wait for our drinks was very long, 1/2 hour , but the food did come promptly. 2 of us split a salad and it was served between us on one plate, a request for a second plate went on deaf ears. I ordered a delicate sounding sandwich of squash, Brie and greens but it was on a huge roll that totally ruined it. The scallops and pork shank dishes were prepared well and liked. Dessert of apple crisp was good. Our experience was ok but we aren't hurrying back.

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Thank kj l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (80)
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68 - 72 of 80 reviews

Reviewed 5 October 2013

I've dined at Barrel House a handful of times since they've opened and can recommend it with enthusiasm.

What I like:

1. No TVs. Even before they opened I heard that Barrel House was supposed to be styled as an old-fashioned speakeasy, with decorative tin ceilings, excellent cocktails and no TVs. Sure enough, that's what it is. What a relief to have a dining experience that doesn't involve CNN.

2. The bartenders. First of all, the same guys have been there since they opened, which means there's little to no staff turnover, which means that the back of the house and the owners aren't jerkoffs. They seem to be completely invested not only in their job (more than knowledgeable about the menu, food sources and of course how to mix those great cocktails)--they've clearly built relationships with the clientele. During my last visit (solo at the bar, kind of late, midweek) the bartenders recognized one nearby diner who hadn't been there in a while, asked a second one if he wanted his regular, and bid departing diners goodnight (some with obvious familiarity). It's easy to see why they have regular and loyal clientele.

3. The drink menu. If you're a fan of whiskey, bourbon or rye, you'll be impressed by their selection. The cocktails are creative, use house-made infusions and syrups, and are expertly mixed (watching these guys at work is its own educational show). There's a very nice microbrew beer list too. Not an Anheuser-Busch label in site.

4. The food. These folks like pigs (Sundays have a theme: Pigs & Whiskey) and it's a nose-to-tail kind of love affair. Further, they do their own charcuterie, which means that the menu features house-made pates and cured meats. It's not just pork though--the menu is well-rounded. I haven't had anything here I haven't liked.

5. Not just good food, local food. Sourcing is important to me, and it's important to Barrel House too. The get their pigs from local farms, and according to the bartender they're considering local goat as well. The oysters are from the Cape, and they list their other New England suppliers on the menu, like Atomic Cafe across the street, and Virgillio's up here in Gloucester. It takes time and energy to shop from local, diverse sources instead of ordering it all from Sysco, and I appreciate it. They also use seasonal ingredients, which is not a novelty but it's still nice.


Not so much:

1. Twice I've been here solo, twice with my husband, and once in a party of four. As a foursome we sat at a table, the place was packed, and the noise was fearsome. That pretty tin ceiling doesn't do much to absorb sound, and we had a lot of trouble hearing each other, even though we were shouting. If you're at all hard of hearing, try to experience Barrel House in its off-hours.

2. The prices. This is probably what keeps me from coming here every week. They are charging what the market will bear, and I'm glad to pay it when I come because I so appreciate everything I mentioned above. It's possible to eat modestly here but you probably won't, so just be prepared. As an example, at my last visit I had 10 raw oysters, two shrimp, and the diver scallops. I drank two Basil Haydens on the rocks. My bill was $100, before the tip.


Seating tip: If you're a person who gets chilled easily or is sensitive to drafts, just look up when you're deciding where to sit. Barrel House has ceiling fans, and they move the air around very nicely. That's great if you're hot, not so much if you're chilly.

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2  Thank capeanngirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2013

I ran into this place with a friend by coincidence and haven't stopped coming back. Amazing professional waitstaff. Great drink selection and ambiance. The menu changes by the week and they use and support local farmers. Their pork belly app is "increible". Overall a place well worth the visit, price and drive. Wait is usually a bit long so get there early as close to opening time - or be ready to have great drinks at the bar. They only take reservations for groups of 8+.

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Thank MouseDoctor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2013

This place fit exactly for the type of restaurant I wanted to have out anniversary dinner in. The menu looked great in advance and didn't disappoint. Excellent beer list to make my husband happy and a pretty decent wine line and also lots of different mixed drinks. We had the silly pickles ( assorted pickled veggies) and the meat charcuterie board which were very good.
Rib eye for him with creamed kale and veggies and steak frites w/ fries and the silly veggies for me. We both enjoyed our meals and I had plenty to take home especially was we wanted to save room for dessert since everything else was so good. Strawberry crumble for him and a fried dough "Twinkie" type dessert me. Both very good, we almost had to be rolled out of there. The service was very good as well. I didn't feel it was loud inside as expected from reading other reviews, it was a bit dim with the lighting, but overall the look of the place was great, lovely brick walls and nicely done décor. You could say it was on the pricey side, but I feel that is to be expected for that type of restaurant and it's well worth it. They also take reservations via Open Table which is great. We will definitely be making plans to go back to try some of the other great looking items on the menu.

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1  Thank SMGBostonMA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2013

Fun upbeat restaurant and bar. Very creative menu and really interesting drinks. Really fun place to sit go out with a group or have a few drinks and appetizers.

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Thank Cob55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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