Barbara is an small 10 top restaurant where most of the seating is “omakase style” around a bar facing an open kitchen. They opened during COVID, and only have two people working – a chef, who worked at Eleven Madison Park a few years ago, and a lady who is also the bartender and hostess. They don’t even have a phone because they have no time to answer because when they are not working on service, they are prepping, doing dishes, responding to email reservation requests etc. I have a lot of respect for this hard working duo. To reserve, email firstname.lastname@example.org. They will email you back and ask for a phone number. When they call, they will ask for a credit card # to hold the reservation.
You can either order a la carte or do the tasting menu where you order one item from each of three sections and they add some extras. We did two tasting menus and started with the Albacore Tonnato and Beef Tartare.
For such a small operation, it was great to learn that they bake the toast for the tartare themselves. That’s passion, dedication, and attention to detail. Here is the entire kitchen.
The tartare was delicious with a lot of fat (it was mixed with a mayonnaise type sauce) and flavor; slightly over seasoned. The tuna was good also, and also slightly over seasoned. For the second course, we received some complimentary “crack potatoes” – fried potatoes with pickles and a hummus dip.
For the second course, we had the corn and crispy octopus. The corn was very delicious. It reminded me of Mexican Street corn which is one of my favorite things to eat. The corn was local, sweet and full of flavor. Great texture. It was served with corn broth, which is made from the husks if I am not mistaken, and served with a corn pudding. To top it off, the chef also adds bacon and manchego.
The octopus was ok, cooked well, but I think could be fresher.
For mains we had the arctic char and duck. The char was cooked perfectly. The skin was crispy and the meat was moist. Flavor was good with nice aromas from the dill. Everything worked well.
The duck was also delicious and served with peaches which complimented well.
There was only one dessert which was a strawberry gratina and not included with the tasting menu. Later when they are able to seat more guests and hire more staff, perhaps they will expand the desserts.
Overall, the food was good and the service was great. Presentation of each dish was very nice. The training from ELMP was evident in the organization, execution and presentation. I would return and try other things as the menu changes. I like the small intimate feel of the restaurant, and being able to watch the chef in action. 8/10