As a girl who loves going out and trying new places, I didn’t hesitate when my sister and her boyfriend invited me to join them at Barrett’s Grill. While I don’t usually love being a third wheel, any insecurities I feel around a lovey-dovey couple come second to my desire to eat.
Located right in Hunt Valley, this restaurant has a contemporary feel to it. Unlike some other restaurants where “contemporary” just means white walls, Barrett’s Grill looks fresh and clean, but it still feels cozy inside due to the addition of several stone walls and great lighting. Once we were seated, we were greeted by our very friendly waiter, full of helpful advice and available during the entirety of our meal.
Since my sister and her boyfriend are both underage, I was the only one who participated in the wine portion of the evening, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to do so. I opted to pick a wine from their newer selection and chose the Location I, which was the listing for an Italian red that had raspberry and ripe red berry undertones to it. I especially appreciated the generous pour of wine because not all $10 glasses of wine are the same.
After picking drinks, we ordered two House Salads, which came out promptly. It was simple, though there wasn’t anything that made it memorable. The Brie that topped it was soft, while the cashews on the dish added a nutty crunch to it. Although the flavors were nice, my favorite part of the salad was the amount of dressing on it. I’m a fan of minimal dressing, and the chefs at Barrett seem to understand that less can be more when it comes to food.
While the salads were good, I was most excited to try our entrees. The main course that I decided to go with was the Maple Leaf Duck. The duck dish came over a wild rice and wilted greens. The greens tasted fresh, but the wild rice was dry, which killed that part of the entree for me as a Persian girl. However, the duck saved part of the day. The meat had a hoisin and lavender glaze which subtly brought out the flavor of the duck. I normally prefer my duck on the rarer side, but it wasn’t so overcooked that it ruined the meal. Even though there were a number of things on the menu that I would want to try in the future, I would also be tempted to get this dish again and give it another go. Another shot to amp this all up and get it right.
Since we’re from Maryland, seafood is on every menu, and my sister ordered the Scallops Risotto, one of the highlights of the meal. Topped with four large scallops, the risotto was truly the focus of the dish. The rice was filled with mushrooms and smoked bacon, and was one of the most fulfilling risottos I’ve had in a while. More often than not, I find that chefs don’t take the time needed to make risottos and it comes out with the effort I associate with fast food chains, but this had the right consistency to it. I was especially surprised since my wild rice was a miss, and risotto is more difficult to master. Another plus was that there was more than enough on the plate for two servings…and by two servings, I mean two for normal people, not greedy people like myself who hoard their food away from the unappreciative masses.
The final entree we received was the New Zealand Rack of Lamb. This lamb was accompanied with a red wine sauce, but was grilled beforehand, so it had that deep charred flavor to it in order to balance out the sauce. These were all strong flavors though, so the lamb got a bit lost in the mix of the other elements. It was the biggest miss of the evening, and is not a testament to the food Barrett’s otherwise puts out.
Although we were very full after our entrees, we all clamored for desserts. Going for something heavy and something light for balance, we ordered the Bread Pudding and Lemon Sorbet. The bread pudding came with a candied cashew crust and a bourbon cream sauce, and I can honestly say it was one of the best bread puddings I’ve ever had. The cashews added some nice texture to the otherwise soft dessert, and the sauce that topped it helped add some power to it. It far outshone the pedestrian sorbet, but at least I now know how to end my meals here.
Overall, I enjoyed my dinner at Barrett’s Grill. There were missteps, and I think there needs to be some more thoughtfulness behind the entrees, but the foundation is there for something great. The generic ‘new-American” food movement provides food all across the board, and this spot definitely leans toward the more classic take on that. There are no foams or deconstructed deviled eggs, and that’s not a bad thing. For people looking for a return to simplicity, Barrett’s Grill is a great choice for those in Hunt Valley, and it’s a spot I imagine I’ll be visiting again soon.