Chandler's Barrelhouse Rolls Out with a Few Bumps
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Photos by Laura Hahnefeld Sweet Pasilla Chili Shrimp
Barrelhouse is the kind of place where the dishes and the drinks feel like one kind of restaurant but the restaurant itself feels like something different altogether.
From sommelier and spirits guru Kenta Usuzawa (Tapino, Petite Maison, Tottie's Asian Fusion), the "American kitchen and cocktails" spot opened almost two months ago at the northwest corner of Warner and Alma School in Chandler.
As you might expect from a man with booze in his background, the drink menu is solid and offers a thoughtful selection of 12 wines by the glass (some from Arizona wineries), nearly 20 craft and local beers on tap, and signature cocktails.
The Hunter's Burger
A good thing, since most of the dishes seem perfect for pairing with them.
Like the drink offerings, the food menu, from chef Larry Shore (L'Auberge de Sedona and House of Tricks), is a mindful mix of mostly familiar American comfort food fare in the form of small plates, soups and salads, flatbread pizza, sandwiches, and entrees.
The sweet pasilla chili shrimp ($9.50) appetizer could probably do without the intensely sweet tortilla slaw, which seems like overkill considering the perfectly grilled jumbo shrimp tinged in a chile glaze and its surrounding luscious sweet corn butter sauce are flavorful enough on their own.
Barrelhouse BLT (Pork Belly, Lettuce, Tomato)
If there is not too much toasted garlic mayo on your Barrelhouse version of the BLT ($9), you'll taste some nice pieces of fatty and salty pan-fried smoked pork belly (instead of bacon) plus tomatoes and watercress on pieces of toasted potato bread.
But a better option, for now, might be The Hunter's Burger ($12.50).