Based on the recommendations I got from this board for outdoor dining in downtown, I went to Barbara's last Saturday. The decor was really industrial but warm, with sofas scattered here and there and soft candlelight glowing in the grey concrete space. Unfortunately, this is another place where the ambiance outdoes the food. It's too bad since it's still undiscovered territory (it was almost empty on a Saturday night) but I wouldn't be surpised if the food is the reason people don't come back. As for the ordering at the counter thing, I don't mind since the prices are very reasonable and the food is brought to your table. That said....
I started off with a glass of sauvingon blanc, and althought it was a good wine, it wasn't chilled enough but I didn't bother sending it back because I didn't feel like waiting for it to chill. I then ordered the Thai Chicken Pizza, grabbed my drink and went to sit with friends (who all ordered at the same time, btw) at one of the plastic outdoor tables. So far, not too terrible. My friend's fish tacos came immediately, as it was off the bar menu. They looked good enough but were cold, so she asked them to heat it up. Instead of just taking the plate, they stood there and said "well, it's made to order so it should be hot." Although my friend wanted to ask if it was made to order out of the freezer, she bit her tongue and politely asked again to have it heated. They took it, dumped the fish back into the oil and brought it back out. The fish was hot all right, but bitter from being re-fried.
About 10 minutes after the reincarnated fish tacos arrived, I got my pizza and another friend got her grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and veggies. It was yet another 15 minutes before the final two friends got their entrees- a spinach and artichoke dip and the steak and frites. Anyway, my pizza was DRIPPING with cheese...just gobs and gobs of messy, melted mozarella drowning the poor crust which was completely soggy (except the edges which I cut off and dipped into the excess cheese). The flavor of the chili sauce and the chicken with the cheese was great, but it just turned me off to cheese for a while because there was so much of it. I pretty much dissected it and ate bits and pieces. The grilled salmon was fine, nothing special, but the accomanying mashed potatoes were so salty that they were inedible. The steak was tough and chewy but my sister was so hungry that she ate it anyway, and the fries were mediocre at best. The spinach and artichoke dip came with pita chips and was the only decent thing that we ate all night.
I am sorely disappointed- the space is really great and the location is convienient to my house, but they need some serious help in the kitchen! I really wanted to like this place so much but the food is just awful. Luckily, it is cheap so at least we didn't waste too much money. I would like to go back to sip wine (they have a huge wine list) on the outdoor patio but I don't think I'll be eating there anytime soon.
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