A Charming Pub in Bellville

My parents were seated at a table with the owners of the Barley Pub at a luncheon they attended last year. The couple said they loved my column for the Watertown Daily Times, and underscored their commitment to cooking from scratch. They invited us to come out and experience what they were doing in Belleville, with the hope I would cover it for the paper.

I never got a chance to visit before the column was canceled, but I don't like to miss out on a chance to sample from-scratch fries and other house made fare, and our Miss TI Olivia and her brother Ryan were singing at Barley Pub this past Saturday night, so we hopped in the car and trekked on down to Belleville for a really fun night out.

Fried pickles are a good time, you know? These had one of the most solid, crunchy coatings of any spears I've ever had in a restaurant, but not at the expense of a crisp, cool dill pickle. We got both a cooling each dressing and a kicked up, slightly spicy thousand island dipping sauce alongside. Switching between the two was the way to go. I don't know if you can tell this from the picture, below, but there was dried dill running through the breading, and there were five big spears in our portion.

I'd been craving chicken wings for a couple weeks. A place that calls itself a pub seems like a pretty good spot to fulfill that craving, no? Dad and I split an order of medium, bone-in wings. I feel like medium is the litmus test for a good wing - mild have no zip, typically, and hot can be too spicy to really tell if the chicken is good. These were real deal, with a perfect butter-to-hot sauce ratio and a non-greasy hit of vinegar and spice.

The wings weren't too saucy, but they were both crispy AND meaty. This was good quality chicken. We were also pleased with the handful of crisp, fresh celery and double dipping sauces we were given. So many places are skimping on those little extras nowadays due to rising food costs, but it's those accoutrements that can be all the difference, even with bar food.

A side salad did the job well. Pristinely fresh vegetables? Check. Lots of ingredients other than lettuce? Check. Peppery balsamic vinaigrette? Check. It wasn't the most remarkable salad ever, but it did tick off some important pros.

I felt similarly about the pizza, which is only available on Friday and Saturday nights. It had a lot of tasty attributes: sweet, flavorful sauce, chewy, well-developed crust, and lots of toppings. For me, though, there was too much sauce on the pie, and the whole shebang was a little blond. The cheese was mostly snowy white, rather than brown and bubbly. Because of that too-short cooking time, the toppings didn't have enough cook time to caramelize, so the thin-sliced pepperoni and canned mushrooms couldn't live up to their full flavor potential. The pizza was good, but it wasn't great.

Shrimp basket! Plump shrimp are there, but you know what else? HOUSE CUT FRIES. They were well seasoned, creamy inside, and crunchy outside. The Holy Grail of fries, right there in Belleville. They were delicious.

May I also draw your attention to the number of shrimp? Seven big ones with slaw and fries for $10.50. This isn't remarkably modern or unique cuisine, but everything we tried was tasty and hearty.

That statement rings true for the rib-eye steak. Perfectly cooked baked potato and a cooked-to-order, glistening slab of beef arrived, with a side of sautéed vegetables. The steak wasn't particularly thick, nor the highest grade of aged steak you can get. But it was a good sized portion, cooked properly, well seasoned, and $16.99. 

One of the things I liked the most about this pub is the bright, open atmosphere it has. Many Irish pub settings are dark, the wood trim dominating the space such that one feels closed in. This is not an issue at the Barley Pub. I will say, as someone will some hearing challenges, with live music, the space becomes very loud. I struggled to hear our friends when Ryan and Olivia were playing, because there's little in the open room to suck up sound. So keep that in mind if you're visiting on a weekend. 

We loved our night out at the Barley Pub in Bellville. For its hearty, house-crafted food, excellent service (our waitress, Tara, was a treat), and a really good time, I award this road house a seven on the BHS scale. I hope you check it out. My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

Barley Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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