The designation “fake and pretentious” bounces around these days like a hamster who steered his plastic ball down the stairs. Thank goodness for restaurants that try and succeed at being the places they’re meant to be without apparently trying at all — thank goodness, in short, for Barbette.
Barbette is a bistro, derived from the French word “bistouille” for bad alcohol. Fortunately, its authenticity stops just short of that. Rather, the place is centered around but not dominated by a wall of good hooch. This being Uptown there are plenty of nice microbrews in stock as well. I, having paid generous respect to the bottle on the night before my recent visit, opted for an espresso inside of a coffee which stood my hair on end.
You’ll find breakfast, for all of its omelettes, crepes, and eggs in their various permutations, at Barbette until 2:00 PM. I understand that some among our readers think that breakfast may be fashionable when it is, in fact, time for lunch, and as cool and laidback a guy I am, I get incensed when breakfast dares to butt into the sandwich’s time of the day. Still, this is America, and if you want to eat French toast in a Grand Marnier sauce or a fluffy quiche du jour in the afternoon then I will gladly defend to death your right to do so (or until I find something better to do). I went to Barbette at noon and I ate lunch then like a normal person should, because I am normal.
I got a French delicacy: the “Royale with Cheese” (and you know why it’s called a Royale with Cheese, right?). Now, get this: Barbette’s cheeseburger has a big wedge of brie melted over the patty. It’s one of the few burgers out there that not only doesn’t call for condiments, but which the application thereof to ought to constitute an actionable offense. That big slab of brie would take me right back to my good old days in France if I’d ever had any. You can’t see it under the pile of caramelized onions in my photo, but the brie is there, mon amis.
The dipping sauce for the fries is a saffron aioli. The word “aioli” was invented so we may feel sophisticated rather than guilty when we eat pure mayonnaise.
The smoked salmon niçoise, with potato, soft boiled egg, roasted peppers, grilled tomato, green beans, olives, and anchovy in a dijon vinaigrette, is so generously laden with stuff that it toes the line between salad and delicious pile of food with some leaves thrown in. The Cobb, with its copious real bacon and chicken bits, is to die for. Both come with a soft hard boiled egg, possibly to appease the people who secretly want breakfast but are afraid of embarrassing themselves in public by ordering it after 11. 11 is the absolute latest time anyone would be allowed to order breakfast if I were in charge, and that’s being generous.
The wall opposite the booze shelves is covered in art, so you get to feel like a real sophisticate while you see how much warm salmon you can shovel into your gob. The little tag next to the Warhol I sat across from says it’s Chicken Noodle Soup but my extensive education in fine art lead me to think otherwise…
Dinner at Barbette beats all too. I recommend the lobster risotto, a creamy, crustaceous pile of comfort that’ll always see you through any problems which might arise as the result of having insufficient risotto. The gnocchi, which so many restaurants believe ought to have the consistency of pencil erasers, are supple and springy at Barbette. And thank god you’re not getting me started on their pork loin with pickled greens! Bury me in a coffin full of the stuff.
And there you have it. If you’re in Uptown and you’re after a real down-to-earth classy meal in a nice joint full of good food and art and people and booze, then you haven’t got an excuse to avoid Barbette. It’s even right next to Lake Calhoun, so you can get a three mile strut behind you before all that brie and aioli decides to winter on your derriere, which is short for [editor’s note — make sure we proofread Dave’s future submissions more carefully before publishing].
1600 W Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Open 8:00 AM – 12:00 AM Sun-Thurs
8:00 AM – 1:00 AM Fri & Sat