It was a beautiful Sunday last weekend and Erin had wanted to walk around the lakes in Uptown for awhile. I had held her off all summer so far, so I figured I could deal with going to Uptown ONE weekend afternoon this year.
On the way there we were trying to decide between Tin Fish and Barbette for lunch. We settled on Tin Fish because it WAS such a nice day, and eating outside sounded pleasant. It turns out that it was also a very windy day as well, and by the time we walked around Lake Calhoun we thought that Barbette would be a better option.
Barbette is a short walk from Lake Calhoun, about two blocks down Lake Street. Apparently Barbette has existed for several years, although when Erin lived four blocks away we never made it there. Barbette has some nice outdoor seating, but because of the wind we opted for an inside table. We got sat in the back left corner as you walk in, which turned out to be a good location because it was a corner booth that let us view the rest of the room.
As you walk in there's a really short counter for people to sit at that is attached to the employee area of the restaurant which makes it easy for servers to bring food out, I thought it was cool idea. It looked different than counters I was used to seeing, like at Byerlys or Peter's Grill.
I had recently decided that beer and booze at restaurants costs more than I am willing to pay, so I decided to cut back when we go out. Predictably, the first place we go after deciding not to get beer has a very snobby beer list with several Belgians on the menu that tempted me. Luckily, because it was snobby it was also even more expensive than normal, so I stood my ground and got a Sprite (which comes in a can thus adding to the European experience).
I recall our server being laid back and cool, and she was friendly in a genuine way, not a fake Applebees-server kind of way. We actually got waited on by three different people while we were there, I couldn't really tell who was responsible for what, but we were taken care of, so whatever.
I ordered the Croque Monsieur because why not? I was eyeing up the Royale w/ Cheese but I've had cheeseburgers before. Erin had heard that they had good fries here too (pommes frites, of course) so we got a side of those as well. I was a little disappointed by the simplicity of the Croque Monsieur, it's basically a fancy grilled ham and cheese. It tasted fantastic, especially when I would dip it in the yolk from Erin's Eggs Benedict, but I was expecting something a little more exotic. If we go back I'll be having the burger instead. And a beer.
- Service: Great service, friendly servers.
- Food: The croque monsieur was good, albeit a little plain.
- Drinks: Great beer selection, and HUGE wine selection. I believe I saw some liquor as well.
- Ambiance: They have a cool place, with exposed ceilings, etc. There were some pretentious people there that day, but that just makes me laugh.
- Price: Reasonably priced, I think our lunch ended up around $25.
- Convenience: Located right near Lake Calhoun with parking available if you're patient.
I am very disappointed in myself that I never went to Barbette in the nearly 3 years that I lived in uptown. I guess at that time I was either in college or working at an entry level job where I had pretty much no money, so that explains it. At any rate, I'm glad we finally made it here! I did give Ben a choice between Tin Fish and Barbette, but I was secretly hoping that we would get to go to Barbette, so I was very glad for the wind that was whipping around that day.
When we arrived, we were quickly seated at a corner booth which was very cozy and afforded us a view of the entire place. This place has a very European vibe, which was made even more prominent by the table full of people speaking French right next to us. It appeared that they actually were from France based on their clothing and shoes, and their accents when speaking English. Other little touches such as no ice in the water and cans of soda helped the ambiance but could be annoying if you like your water extra cold and your diet coke refilled. As Ben mentioned, there was a definite pretentious attitude of the place, which also helped it to feel very French. My favorite part was when we saw a girl wearing a plain tank top, running shorts, and a scarf. Keep in mind that it was 85 degrees outside on Sunday.
On to the food. I had heard based on my eggs benedict research that Barbette has some of the best in the area, so I ordered that. Since it came with mixed greens and I wanted to try the fries, we also ordered a half order of pommes frites, which was a HUGE amount of fries.
I don't think I can even put into words how good these eggs benedict were. My past few experiences have been fairly disappointing, so I think that made these taste even better to me. The eggs were poached so beautifully, they were almost a work of art. The hollandaise looked like it might not be enough, but surprisingly it was plenty and the flavor was absolutely perfect. If you are a benedict fan, you should definitely get to Barbette for brunch and try these out!
The fries were also good. Some seemed to be cooked perfectly, but others were a little too crispy for my liking. The aoili that came with was good, but a little bland. I tried Ben's Croque Monsieur which I thought was fine, but I prefer the Madame. For some reason, the Croque Madame at Barbette is made with cheese and vegetables instead of just being a Croque Monsieur with egg on it. I'm sure you can request it to be made with ham if that is your preference.
I thought Barbette was a great restaurant and I'd love to come back for dinner, or again for brunch to have the eggs benedict. The atmosphere is interesting, the food was all wonderful, and it isn't too expensive.
1600 West Lake Street