Barley and Swine appeared on my radar when word came out that the owners of The Joint (which closed down sometime last year) were behind it. And, also because of their very pork-centric menu. Not many other places offer things like bone marrow, pig ears, and pig face vaca frita. In fact, their Miami Spice menu featured an appetizer of crispy pig tails. *GASP!* Now, I am not a particularly adventurous eater, but I must admit that I was curious. So, I made my way over to Downtown Dadeland on a weeknight to check them out.
From my seat at the bar, I had a plain view of the kitchen. There was also a counter with stools by the open kitchen, so diners would sit and eat while watching the cooks work. This wasn’t a very big place, but the atmosphere seemed nice enough. However, much to my disappointment, the Miami Spice menu had been modified. Rather than the 3 plates plus dessert for $33 promised with Miami Spice, the bartender informed me that they were offering 2 plates plus dessert for $25. I have to suspect that the change was very recent, or on days that they didn’t feel like promoting the Miami Spice menu, because one of the other bartenders started to offer the “3 + dessert” until the other one stopped her.
Sadly, my disappointment didn’t stop with the alterations to their Miami Spice menu. On top of the change, the pig tails were also nowhere to be found. But, I decided to make the best of it and ordered their black truffle patatas for the appetizer.
First off, this plate was HUGE. It’s obvious that this dish was meant to be shared, or be eaten by a very hungry Amazon food blogger. The potatoes were nicely seasoned, and had a crispy exterior. I think I would have preferred that they cut them a little bit smaller, though. The crunchy to soft potato ratio was off for me. The Parmesan truffle sauce on the potatoes was fantastic. I think I would have liked it better on a bowl of pasta than on potatoes, though.
I got the braised short rib for the entrée. The beef was tender, but not “fall apart” tender. The port sauce gave it a full, robust flavor. It was served on a bed of mashed potatoes, which I really didn’t touch because I was overloaded from the potatoes in the appetizer.
One of Barley and Swine’s unique features is that they offer a different type of mac and cheese every day of the week. I happened to show up on their Chipotle and Gouda mac and cheese day, and was talked into trying it by the bartender. My first bite tasted kind of like ultra-spicy Velveeta shells and cheese. After 2 more bites, I couldn’t take the heat anymore. I know, I’m a horrible Latina. I should really be able to hold my spice better than that.
For dessert, I opted for their beignets. Now, I have never been to New Orleans, and cannot tell you what an authentic beignet is supposed to be. However, these tasted very much like the ones my aunt and I made once. They were slightly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The guava marmalade was not as sweet as I expected it to be, which was a very good thing. Guava can easily overpower when not used prudently.
Aside from the confusion about the Miami Spice menu, I was very happy with the service. The bartender was attentive, pleasant, and quick. Not only that, but she apologized when I said that the mac and cheese was too spicy for me, and offered to take it off the bill. Seeing as how Barley and Swine offers chicken skins on their menu, I think I’ll be paying them another visit.
For more information on Barley and Swine, visit them at http://www.barleyandswine.com/.
**UPDATE 3/28/2017: This restaurant is permanently closed.