Recently, the wife was off attending a holiday party with some of her co-workers and that left me and the daughter to fend for ourselves when it came to dinner. We decided to try Barleycorn’s, a local restaurant that just opened a new location less than two miles from our house. This was good news since most sit down places close to us require a drive through or near the dreaded mall/strip shopping area. Heading there tends to put me in a horrible mood before I even sit down to eat.
To avoid the crowds I’ve seen since its opening, we opted to be early birds and arrive before 5pm. That was almost too late. We got a table immediately, but within fifteen minutes there was a crowd standing around the door. This is my first problem with the restaurant, the entryway is jumble of confusion. The hostess stand is right by the door causing a major cluster in the area. The space between the inside and outside doors will hold about six people and anyone else waiting for a table ends up cluttering the doorway or are forced to stand outside where it happened to be less than twenty degrees that night.
We were asked if we wanted the smoking or non-smoking section. This has been something that has come to a head recently in these parts with the three local counties in Northern Kentucky going back and forth on a smoking ban. Unfortunately, the county we live in decided to skip joining in on the ban and now we are still forced to select where you want to enjoy or not enjoy your meal. I requested non-smoking which found us sitting in the same large room with all the smokers and the smoking area of the bar. There is no separate area or dividers or glass. Just one big room.
The waitress took our drink order and I went with unsweetened iced tea. I love good iced tea but I like to control the level of sweetness myself. While waiting I noticed all they had for sweetener was the pink stuff and sugar.
I don’t like sugar because in a cold drink it just settles to the bottom. I don’t like the after-taste of the pink stuff. Blue or yellow sweetener are my first choice. In this case I decided to use the sugar and stir before each sip. I’m also a Heinz ketchup guy. I don’t care for or buy any other brands. The tea was brought and it had a nice color, tasted fresh brewed and they included an iced tea-spoon which made the sugar stirring much easier. The drink did not include any lemon nor was I asked if I desired any for my tea.
We both decided what we would like and placed our order. I chose the colossal smokey pepperjack burger and the daughter went with the chicken fingers. It was about this time that I started to get a good whiff of smoke. Nasty ass cigarette smoke. When our waitress returned to inform us that our meals would be out shortly, I was assured we were in the non-smoking section.
The meals arrived quickly and everything look good.
My burger had bacon, onion straws, chipotle mayo, steak sauce and a liberal supply of rabbit food. The daughter’s chicken fingers came with cole slaw and looked a little like battered fish. The burger was cooked perfectly, still juicy but not bleeding through the bun. The meat had plenty of beef flavor, but the steak sauce (definitely A-1) was a little overpowering. The bun was soft but it had no problem holding everything together.
I also ate my daughter’s cole slaw. It was very fresh with a nice crunch and perfect level of creaminess. She said the chicken was okay, but nothing special. She managed to clean her plate and I finished up the burger even though I should have left the last piece on the plate. I had gone one bite over the limit and was bloated for the next two hours.
The big problem throughout the meal was what became the overpowering smell of smoke as the restaurant filled with smokers. I spent most of my time between bites with my nose in the crook of my elbow trying not to breathe the air. It turns out it was very unfortunate, because the burger was without a doubt one of my favorites from the various restaurants in the area. Because of the smoking, I don’t see myself going back again. I may consider carry out, but fighting the crowd at the door like we did when leaving is another reason to simply walk across the parking lot to Culver’s, home of the ButterBurger.
I give the burger a solid 4 out of 5, the experience a 1.5 out of 5.