In the old Broadway Wine Merchants space, Noisette Pastry Kitchen opened a few months ago, Off The Waffle opened a second location at 840 Willamette Street, and Belly opened a second location as well, at 30 East Broadway. Just down the street from Belly, the First National Tap House, which I’m personally really excited about, plans to open in May. With a focus on Northwest beer and wine, First National Tap House will have 28 beer taps and 8 wine taps. In the same building, the new Bijou Metro Theater will be opening, and not too far from there, a heavy-metal themed pizza company out of Portland, Sizzle Pie, plans to open very soon.
Riding on the wave of new downtown businesses, one of the first to open was The Barn Light, located at 924 Willamette Street. The Lunch Gals have been hearing good things about this coffee shop and bar that opened just a few months ago, so we decided it was a must-visit venue.
As soon as Lunch Gal Maria and I entered into The Barn Light, we noticed the eclectic decor. Vintage thermoses and tin cans house dried flowers and plants. Wood plank walls on one side, brick walls on the other, and a tin and steel beamed ceiling endow a rustic yet relaxed atmosphere. Funky and hip, we had a feeling we were really going to like this new downtown Eugene restaurant.
The gal behind the counter, where guests place their food and drink orders, handed us a couple of menus to look-over. With just eight entree items, all priced at $6 dollars each, I thought making a decision would be easy, but I was stumped. Everything looked good; in particular, the Arkansas Hot Brown (Fayetteville, AR) – Chicken-n-Gravy stacked with Water Ave. Coffee-Glazed bacon, tomato and Tillamook cheddar on Texarkana Toast, the KC Frito Pie (Kansas City, Mo) – house-made Kansas City Chili and Tillamook Cheddar on Frito corn chips, and The Barn Light BS (Sturgeon Bay, WI) – Water Ave. Coffee-Glazed bacon and house made slaw on Texas Toast. All entrees came with house made pickled veggies and a choice of Tim’s Potato Chips, and there were options for snacks, sides, late-night items and daily desserts.
I was curious about the indicated locations of each entree, and I was told that in most cases, the town indicated is a place that is meaningful to someone at The Barn Light, and in some ways, those places have inspired or influenced that particular meal.
Maria, the menu modifier, ordered the Chicken Salad Sandwich (Benicia, CA) – Roasted Ranger Yardbird, classic mayo dressing, celery and red onion on a potato roll. She omitted the potato roll and asked for the chicken salad to be added on top of field greens. I decided on The Barn Light BS with a side of Baked Potato Salad.
The Barn Light has a full bar, so I thought a Margarita would be appropriate on National Margarita Day, and Maria ordered a Bloody Mary. With a salted rim and slice of lime, my Margarita was really tasty. Maria’s Bloody Mary came with olives and a couple pieces of Water Ave. Coffee Glazed Bacon, and it looked really good – I had to try it. With just the right amount of spice, this was one of the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve had in a long time. Although Maria was a little disappointed that there were just three olives, bacon and a lime (she likes her Bloody Mary’s to be like a salad), she agreed that it was, indeed, an absolutely delicious Bloody Mary.
My sandwich was awesome – the bread was perfectly toasted and the slightly sweet and crispy bacon was outstanding. Totally packed with flavors and spices, the potato salad had unexpected green olives, and it was anything but ordinary. Maria’s modified Chicken Salad on top of field greens was deliciously fresh and exactly as she wanted it. What we both agreed was completely palate pleasing, however, was the house made pickled veggies: fresh pickled cucumber and red onion piled high in a little tiny mason jar. Yum.
As we stated in our very first article about the Local Lunch Gals, each of the Gals have different opinions in what is most important about a dining experience. For Maria, it’s being able to modify the menu to suit her dietary restrictions. For Jennifer, being a restaurant owner herself, service is of the utmost importance. For me, it’s ambiance and wine, and if a restaurant in the Willamette Valley offers wine, there better be some local options. Although Jennifer wasn’t with us this time, she was catering a big event at Pfeiffer Winery, Maria and I both agreed the service was very good. I loved the funky, eclectic ambiance and decor, and I was super happy to see they offered local wine: Patchwork Cellars Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.
We were impressed, and we’ll definitely be returning to The Barn Light. If businesses continue to ride the wave to downtown Eugene, and have something unique to offer like The Barn Light, this little city of ours will certainly be a thriving one.