Restaurant review

Restaurant review: two pubs serving comforting and satisfying food

Barnaby’s: the Barnaby hamburger; Roasted Brussels sprouts and nachos. Photograph by Angel Tucker.

Barnaby’s public house

Barnaby’s Public House comes with a sordid murder story involving a Providence millionaire, an incapacitated woman, and a toddy full of arsenic. But inside the doors of the Victorian-style saloon, people are more concerned with hedonism than history. The after-work crowd flocked to Barnaby’s, filling the air with orders for cocktails and screams of relief that the office day was over. The fact that they end up in a paneled room with gilded mirrors is lost after the second glass, but the clash of cultures – British aesthetics, world cuisine, American temperament – remains pleasant.

Brick columns, wired cabinets and frosted pendants have a certain effect: men finally have a place to wear corduroy blazers with suede elbow patches and their cordovan wing-tip shoes. It’s a place to drink in style, a place where people tend to sip green chartreuse, cherries and orange bitters. The millennial crowd crammed like sardines into leather booths and loudly proclaiming that the world is theirs, while the couples at the bar lean in close to forget the world altogether.

The menu, however, brings it all down to earth. Barnaby’s makes a medium, massive fish and chip dish on Fridays, but the cooking look is largely in the Midwest. The burgers are thin and served double or triple ($ 14 / $ 16), stacked like a prototype fast food restaurant. (“Jesus,” says a thin man in a tweed jacket, barely chewing his food. “I didn’t expect it to be this good.”) The chili Jalapeno cheese ($ 10) is served as a large scoops of ice cream surrounded by thick toast triangles. Even a modern dish of Korean ribs and kimchi ($ 14) vaguely resembles the chewy quarters that Chinese restaurants pack in foil bags to take out. That’s Barnaby’s dichotomy: It may look like another country in another century, but a pub is everything to celebrate the familiar and, here, every plate of cheese-dipped fries bears witness to that.


Barnaby’s public house. Photograph by Angel Tucker.

The holidays, however, tend to reach a feverish climax. Reproduction pewter ceilings are pleasing to the eye, but they don’t dampen the often jarring din. There are a multitude of gems on the menu that are overlooked just because you’re tired of yelling at someone three feet away. The perfect spot is after happy hour and before the night is over, when young people get dressed, slightly older people put their children to bed, and Barnaby’s takes on a more reserved tone. It’s a good time to sit down with a spicy coffee and dessert as retro works particularly well at this point.

You can’t go to a pub for an ice cream, but, oozing over toast pudding coated in whiskey sauce ($ 7), the food creates all kinds of communities. Even the homemade sundae ($ 8) – loaded with cookie dough, brownie chunks, and liquid marshmallows – makes it clear that Barnaby’s can have fun with minimal booze. His mood changes depending on the time of day and the crowd, but it’s always looking for a good time.

Barnaby’s public house
385 Westminster Street, Providence, 455-6857,
Accessible to wheelchairs. Parking on the street.
Capacity Fifty.
Atmosphere American bar dressed in British tweed.
Essential dish Fish and chips and bread pudding.
Prices $ 8 to $ 16

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