Barrelhouse is Fondren’s newest restaurant and watering hole. It opened in February, and we gave the management team of Andrew Kehoe and Chef Stephen Kruger a few weeks to get their sea legs before we checked out their offerings.
FOOD: So what did we think?
First of all, it’s clear that Fondren has a yet another fantastic eatery, cementing the neighborhood as the go-to dining destination for Jackson diners.
Barrelhouse calls itself a “Southern gastropub,” and that seems close to right, but in our opinion, the food offers a little more than the title suggests.
My first reaction to the menu is to exclaim, “Finally!”
With nothing on the menu over $18 (the Stuffed Pork Chop), and the rest of the menu at $15 or less, Jackson finally has a locally-owned place that won’t break the bank.
There are nouveau Southern classics featured (yes, I just made that one up) like Shrimp & Grits, the State Street Sausage Plate, and Buffalo Cauliflower, as well as more quirky and unique offerings like their featured Meatball Menu, the Kale Caesar Salad, and the Crispy Confit Chicken Wings that are slow-cooked in duck fat before being fried. (OMG.) My favorite that I tried was probably the Tuna Poke Nachos; I doubt I’ll go there without starting with a plate of these things.
All in all, I find the menu accessible without being trite.
Something else you’ll notice when you walk into Barrelhouse is the openness. The renovation, which took years, has left us with a space that does a great job of incorporating unique elements of the original structure with thoroughly modern design. The wide aisles give you the sense that this place is definitely designed to accommodate a bar crowd, and that’s what they intend to do.
While the restaurant is definitely family friendly during normal dining hours, the late night hours bring out a younger crowd that is ready for a good time. The wine list is small, but well put together and balanced. I have also been pleased to see that the bourbon list is growing by the week. There are over fifteen options currently, and I expect more will come.
Save Me Some Nachos
Opening a restaurant is difficult and not for the faint of heart. I always recommend giving a new place time to figure things out before judging them too critically. Inevitably, the things that look like big sellers before your opening will be gone with your first menu change, and the last minute add on will become a signature dish. The staff has to figure out its own rhythm in both the kitchen and on the floor. But eventually, moving parts sync up and something delicious emerges.
That’s happening in Fondren right now, so get out to Barrelhouse (and save me some Tuna Poke Nachos).
Barrelhouse is located at 3009 N. State St. in Jackson’s Historic Fondren District. You can find them on the web at barrelhousems.com or reach them by phone at 769.216.3167.
Some photos provided by Barrelhouse.