Review – Bean & Barrel in Chapel Hill

Bean and Barrel

Bean and Barrel is a coffee shop, bar and restaurant

Folks in the northeastern section of Chatham County are rejoicing as they are finally getting some variety of restaurants that are a little more upscale than the standard fare. One such place is the Bean and Barrel, located off of Farrington Road, just across the street from Governor’s Club.

When you first enter the Bean and Barrel, it has the feel of a coffee shop. And yes, that is the “bean” part of the name, “Bean and Barrel.” The other half of the name comes from the fact that this is also a bar that offers an extensive selection of wines, and beer, but also has martinis and other mixed drinks. The Bean and Barrel offers fun specials such as $2 (draft beer) Tuesdays and 1/2 off of wine for Wine Wednesdays.  You’ll see people with their laptops relaxing in a corner checking their email with the free Wi-Fi offered here.  The eclectic decor, comfy chairs and funky light fixtures definitely gives you the sense that you are in a coffee house or a bar.

However, the food is the real highlight here.  Credit is due to head chef Sam Allen.  Allen trained at New England Culinary Institute and has worked in several fine restaurants around the country before settling at the Bean and Barrel. Most of the dishes at Bean and Barrel are pub fare, but they are done in a way that makes you feel you are getting something more special.

gazpacho

Gazpacho at Bean and Barrel

My husband started his meal with some gazpacho, which was a nice, chunky gazpacho with chopped onion, cilantro, ripe red tomatoes, and a dash of fresh jalapenos. It’s a perfect choice during these hot summer months.

I had a side salad and an order of the truffle mac and cheese. It was rich tasting, with a hint of pepper. A very comforting appetizer and with the salad, was enough as a meal for me. The salad was a decent size and the citrus dressing was splendid.

fish and chips

The fish and chips at Bean and Barrel

My husband also ordered the fish and chips. It was one of the best plates of fish and chips I have seen in awhile. The outside was a nice shade of tan and it was crispy. The waiter said the batter had some panko in it. The inside was a nice, sweet flavored cod. The fries were also crispy and plentiful.

mushroom risotto

Mushroom Risotto without the chicken

The first time I ate here, I had the mushroom risotto with blackened chicken. The chicken was an explosion of flavor and was the key element to this dish. It was tender and moist and added just the right amount of spice to the dish. The risotto was a perfect al dente. It was creamy and flavorful. It was cooked with cherry tomatoes,  zucchini,  onion, mushrooms and a bit of white wine.  This time, my friend had the risotto, but without the chicken because she is a vegetarian. She also enjoyed it quite a bit.

veggie burger and fries

Veggie burger and fries

One of our friends ordered the veggie burger. He said it was really tasty and as you can see from the photo, there was a generous portion of jalapenos served on top.

We were all too full to have dessert, but will have to come back again to try out the blueberry cheesecake.

Bean and Barrel also offers a Sunday Brunch which really sounds great with entrees such as Eggs Benedict, Blueberry Pancakes and Biscuits and Gravy. Sounds like the perfect place to go after church. Needless to say, at that time of day you can try one of their coffee drinks as well.

Bean and Barrel is located in the Village Shopping Center at 50100 Governor’s Drive.  They are open seven days a week, though are closed after 3pm on Sunday.

Bean and Barrel on Urbanspoon

Jamie Nunnelly is a communications professional who has worked for companies such as General Motors, Tropicana Products, Inc. and Advantis Corporation and spent over a decade in economic development as the communications director for the Research Triangle Regional Partnership and the Research Triangle Foundation of NC. She published a quarterly magazine called "The Park Guide." Currently, she is the communications director for the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI). Jamie considers herself a bit of a "foodie," and loves to try all kinds of cuisine. She has traveled to places such as Colombia, Europe, Costa Rica, Alaska, Canada and Mexico. Jamie and her husband, Scott, have lived in the Research Triangle region since 1995.
Jamie Nunnelly
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