Restaurant Review: Bistro La Barrique
I’ve walked past Bistro La Barrique a few times but never quite found the moment to go in – but after yet another friend recommended it to me, I knew I had to make the time. A tiny, cosy place on Barton St, Bistro La Barrique puts a bit of a twist on the traditional French menu by offering a selection of petits plats – smaller dishes and sides that can be combined to make a sharing feast. Personally, I’m always up for this kind of thing because I reckon it means you get to eat more, and I’m a glutton.
We started out with Bistro La Barrique’s signature aperitif, pousse rapière, a fabulous cocktail from Gascony that combines sparkling wine with Armagnac and orange to make something deliciously festive. It’s the perfect thing to sip on whilst agonising over the menu – and agonise you will, because there are so many great dishes to choose from. Do what we did and basically just order everything – creamy salmon risotto, duck confit with a beautiful mashed potato crust, beef stew with port and stilton, rich potato gratin, French beans with garlic butter, chicken croustade with a creamy mustard sauce, three bean cassoulet with sweet, sharp onions. I would find it very, very hard to pick a favourite, but if forced, I’d have to choose the duck confit, which I’m still daydreaming about days later, with a special commendation for the potato gratin which was purely divine. To wash down the whole feast, we consulted our kindly waiter for a red wine that wouldn’t be too heavy, and really enjoyed the bottle of Fleurie St Laurent d’Arpaye he recommended.
Naturally, we were pretty stuffed by the time it came to dessert, but in the interests of a fair review, we soldiered on. I chose a vanilla crème brulèe, which is one of my very favourite desserts and always a good test of a restaurant – I’ve eaten far too many that weren’t up to scratch. Fortunately in this case I was absolutely not disappointed, either in the crème brulee or the snifter of calvados with which I washed it down – to me, the very taste of France distilled in a bottle. My dining companion chose affogato, a scoop of the very best vanilla ice cream with an espresso poured over the top, and pronounced it delicious as well.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’d recommend Bistro La Barrique without hesitation – the food was fabulous and full of authentic French flavour, the drinks were delicious (especially the pousse rapière – be sure to order that when you visit) and I loved the idea of the smaller plates – great for trying something new. I’ll definitely be going there again, and so should you.
Images Copyright Sal Godfrey / Sal’s Kitchen