by Damon Noisette // photos by Agnes Lopez
Barrique Kitchen & Wine Bar was all set to become the ninth full service restaurant to open in the Shoppes of Avondale along St. Johns Avenue when some neighborhood residents, concerned about a lack of parking in the historic district, made their objections known to the city planning commission. Fortunately, a compromise was struck, one that limited the total seats to 100 and a closing time of midnight. The end result is a spacious and elegant addition to the strip that should excite area diners and wine lovers.
With a design that highlights the copious amount of wine on hand—more than 200 different varieties—and incorporates reclaimed wood and red brick, Barrique has a rustic, wine cellar feel that complements its continental-inspired cuisine. Chef Lisa Leonardi runs the kitchen, and the menu is a collaboration between her and managing partner Greg Bartolotta, who brought down a selection of favorites from his restaurant on Long Island, The Argyle Grill & Tavern. The concept is based around small plates that are essentially European-sized entrées, not tapas, that are well priced and meant for sharing, with ingredients that pair nicely with an affordable bottle of wine. And the entire wine list is available by the glass, though a two-glass minimum is required.
The lunch menu is doing double duty for now as the staff figures out a weekend brunch menu. Light eaters might like the poached pear salad ($10) and its crumbled gorgonzola and chopped pecans. One dish sure to make the cut is the decadent Nutella French toast ($12). Other carb-laden standouts are Barrique’s pretzel baked brie ($8) with fig jam and the short rib grilled cheese ($12) which, in its defense, comes with a small mixed green salad. The flat iron steak and eggs ($17) are served with the shoulder steak expertly grilled and sliced and the eggs cooked to order.
A notable theme with Barrique’s small plates is that they appear very simple but offer a complexity of flavors and a savory end, like the pan-roasted chicken ($15) with brown butter mashed potatoes and asparagus. The goat cheese ravioli ($10) and veal meatballs ($8) are not to be missed, nor are the oven roasted oysters ($12), which are prepared with white wine, shallots, and Pecorino Romano cheese. The seared tuna ($15) has a citrus slaw that adds a lovely crunch to the sushi-grade fish. Along with the small plates, the 14-inch thin crust pizzas are cooked in a stone oven ($10-15) and appear at both services.
Crafted in house and from scratch, Chef Leonardi’s desserts are miniature, deconstructed delights served in glasses. Her lemon ginger cheesecake ($4) and cannoli ($4) are quite the finisher, especially with a bit of both on the same spoon.
Plan Ahead With a prime location in Avondale but only 100 available seats, make a reservation via OpenTable or by calling ahead.
Park Where You Can The residents aren’t wrong about limited parking nearby. Be prepared to find a spot a few blocks away and walk over.
Spirits in Flight Barrique has a full bar and offers value-priced tasting flights of wine, with a trio of three-ounce pours ranging from $15-$18.