Situated in the heart of downtown Newton, in the seat of Sussex County, the Barrel House opened a couple of years ago, taking over the former Trinity space that had been renovated by the previous owners. Although the town bridges suburbia and surrounding rural farmland, the restaurant has plenty of urban casual touches that include exposed brick walls, wide plank wooden floors and a handsome oak bar that is elevated a few steps off the main dining area.
The bar service includes sangria and specialty cocktails, as well as a dozen or so wines, and a wide array of bottled and draft beers.
On a busy weeknight before a show across the street at the Newton Theatre, we settled into bench seats accented with comfy, colorful pillows. We were immediately greeted by what appeared to be the only waiter and began worrying about the service as the room quickly filled up. Fortunately, our fears were never realized as he and a very competent and friendly busser attended to our needs in a most timely manner without ever losing their smiles.
Our empanada appetizer, plump with lightly spiced shreds of stewed beef inside a flaky brown dough, arrived sliced into four pieces for easy sharing and was accompanied by a creamy queso sauce and sweet and salty fried plantains. The burrata mozzarella plate was equally creamy and refreshingly served with bitter arugula and smoky charred cherry tomatoes, but it was so generous we had to ask for extra crostini in order to finish it off with the proper amount of crunch.
The burgers and sandwiches include an ahi tuna that was seared, chopped and formed into a nice-sized patty and is served on a soft brioche bun. It could have used a tad more of the delicious wasabi aioli. The accompanying French fries were piping hot and perfectly crisped.
There are only a half-dozen entrees on the menu which includes meat, chicken, fish and pasta. We were not disappointed going with the flank steak. It was done exactly as ordered and topped with just the right amount of blue cheese butter, so as not to overwhelm the great taste and texture of the beef.
There were a number of intriguing specials listed on a blackboard, but for some reason the majority were not available even though it was early in the evening.
Whether in town for business, shopping, attending a first-run movie or live concert at the theater, or to enjoy their own live music on most Friday and Saturday nights, The Barrel House is definitely worth stopping in for a drink, snack or supper.
The Barrel House, 173 Spring Street, Newton; 908-583-1831. Open Monday-Thursday noon-10 pm, Friday-Saturday noon-midnight.Click here to leave a comment