I'm told that the Firehouse is under new management / ownership, and the format has been changed. I was there last week, and had a very pleasant visit. The historic brick late 19th century building is one completely open, large space. The front half is a florist shop ( nice bouquets!), and the back half is a restaurant- pub ( warm aromas wafted from the kitchen as well ) , separated only by a 5 ft. counter-space, so that one can see the entire space, as it was when it was a working firehouse. It was tastefully decked with pointsettas, holly, and strings of tiny star-like white lights, creating a warm holiday ambiance. For those odd folk who prefer perusing the walls to conversing, whilst eating and drinking,t here is also a plethera of interesting, historic, and sometimes humorous advertising signs, posters and photos with either a firehouse or Americana theme, The menu is a mix of American pub / neuvelle cuisine at very affordable prices. The portions are hearty. I was only in for a few beers, but hailing from Boston and considering myself to be a chowder connoisseur, and with fat flakes of snow flying outside, a steaming bowl of delicious, home-made clam chowder seemed in order, It was neither too thick nor thin, and, while not quite like some I've had in Back Bay ( maybe I have a small bias), and the clams were plentiful.The bits of bacon, which I understand was a favorite touch of Ted Kennedy's when cooking the Hyannis clan, was a nice touch. It was darn good for 200 miles inland, and at only $4 for a huge bowl, a steal.( I'm not encouraging any price adjustments, mind you.) I accompanied it with a few Vermont micros, Trout River, one of my favorites, and a the ever popular Switchback, both an affordable $4, That's my idea of a pub experience on a snowy day, but one of the patrons seated near me ordered a steaming, heaping plate of roast beef and mashed with gravy with which he seemed well satisfied. I also noticed a fish dinner on the special board at a bargain $12.95.
The owner is a comely lass, with a winning personality. She makes you feel appreciated and welcome, and doesn't hesitate to serve customers when it's busy, providing friendly and interesting chat - and all while managing the back of the house.That's restaurant multi-tasking at it's best !
Entertainment was dished up by a local blues talent who goes under the moniker The Blue Fox. Watch for this guy, he's the real deal if you like genuine Delta slide guitar and Leo Kottke-esque finger picking. Upon conversing with him discovered that one of his close friends in Montpelier happens to be a great short order cook I knew almost 20 years ago from the landmark Tastee Grill in Harvard Square, which was featured in Good Will Hunting. It should be should add that I was also regaled by a friendly, erudite local seated on the adjacent stool , with tales of his days in said Cambridge, as well as other stop-offs during his earlier bohemian days. Receiving a concise and gratis lesson in Irish history while quaffing the suds was an added bonus.
So when in Barre, great food, fun and friendly people - as well as a pleasing ambiance - can be found in one stop at the Firehouse.
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