Libby and Fred had an afternoon together while the Oz was in pre-school. Not sure if it was kid-friendly, we'd been waiting for just such an occasion in order to visit the new Broadripple location for Barley Island.
Fred's one and only stop at the venerable Noblesville brewery had been very dissapointing. Not only was the food only so-so, but he was working and therefore couldn't really sample the beer. (ok, maybe he still had one. so sue him.)
Fred instantly zeroed in on the Beastie Barrel Stout, a malty cocoa stout. It was surprisingly light and refreshing. If he weren't driving, he certainly would have ordered a second. Libby was undecided and therefore went with the sampler. As per our usual, we loved both ends of the spectrum, but the middle, not so much. Pale Ales just aren't our thing. While the porter and amber were good, the real standouts were the stout and blonde ale. But Libby agreed that the real winner was the Beastie. Get it while it's still in season, folks!!
Remembering that we were actually there for a late lunch, we chose a starter of the beer cheese and bread. Libby then ordered the spinach melt with homemade kettle chips, Fred, the "ultimate" grilled cheese with waffle fries.
We were originally heartened to see our server almost bring us our appetizer and then begin a quick low grumbling with another waiter. After a little back and forth, the plate was returned to the kitchen. It's wonderful to see quality control and a staff that really does care, even if they all unquestioningly blaze up out back. It was later explained to us, as our appetizer and entrees arrived in unison, that the bread had been over-toasted.
About the bread... This yeasty, flavorful, doughy wheat bread is an all-star. It was the highlight, not only of the appetizer, but the whole meal. If Barley Island were to use that on every sandwich, they could easily charge an extra $1-2 per plate. Think about it, Mr. Island. Unfortunately, it was served with a meek, bland, watery, one-note cheese sauce. We could not detect which, if any, of their beers were present in it. Come on guys. If you can't serve over-toasted bread (and thank you for not doing so!), you shouldn't be serving this either.
Moving on to our entrees...Libby's spinmelt had a distinctly "healthy" feel to it. Not a bad spinmelt, by any means, it was light on the cheese and heavy on the veg...topped with cucumber slices and mushrooms. A slice of cheese on top and some of that beer bread would have changed the whole story! It's ok for a spinmelt to be healthy, but there was no "melt" involved here. Oh, and the kettle chips were pretty good. Fred, not usually a fan of homemade chips, thought they were the best he'd tasted.
Fred's grilled cheese was just that. A grilled cheese. There was certainly nothing "ultimate" about it. It was 3 slices of white bread with American cheese in between. Granted the tomato and bacon were good. But this is something anyone could have made at home, probably with items already in their fridge. White bread & American cheese = ultimate? Really? Otherwise, the waffle fries were good. Most likely out of a bag, but crisped up nicely.
Price- $-$$, For the beer quality, you can't beat these prices.
Atmosphere-***, Open, contemporary, but felt like it wasn't quite broken in yet. We were happy not to see TVs every 10 feet.
Service-***, It was interesting that they contemplated serving burnt bread, but we're glad they didn't.
Fred - C+, I'm actually surprised by my own rating. The food really was sub-par. But the beer! I'll suckle on that any time. And I really see potential. They need to work on the food, but it's only been open for a few months...
Libby - C, Honey, the beer was fine. But when I am lucky enough to get a beer in Broadripple, The Brugge gets my business..
Ozzy- Pre-K. :)