I recently headed to the new BarBacon branch in Union Square in high anticipation a bacon fest of the hugest proportions! I instantly fell in love with the casual open atmosphere that included wood floors, large front windows, dim lighting and large screen TVs. I noticed a huge after work bar crowd as well as people coming in for dinner around 6 or 6:30 PM when I had my reservation.
Before you ask–yes, everything really has bacon in it (with the exception of some of the desserts). My dining partner Gail (a fellow bacon maniac) were planning on trying a little of a lot of different dishes but we noticed how big each serving was as they were headed out of the kitchen. Handsome owner (and former Daniel Boulud protégée) Peter Sherman told me he was proud to have carefully prepared gastropub cuisine served in large portions and each entree at BarBacon is big enough to serve three guests! This is something that I would never complain about; both Gail and I are always happy to take doggie bags home although neither of us has pets!
We started out with the Bourbon Cornbread which comes as two little but very filling loaves that are about five inches long each. They are soft, warm and golden with a medium intensity of corn flavor but the piece de resistance is the hot pepper jelly on the side. It features hot pepper flakes but is not overpowering. It has more of the consistency of a sauce than a jelly and it tasted very luxurious and fruity as if there were fresh red berries mixed in with the peppers.
Next up were the Chicken Tacos which were very unique. They are made with soft white homemade tortillas that are nice and warm, tender shredded chicken breast, little chunks of slab bacon, salsa verde and sour cream and then topped with crushed tortillas. You get fresh lime for spritzing and the combo is so fresh, citrusy, soft and crunchy at the same time. I highly recommend these. You get two chicken tacos in a serving and while this is considered an appetizer, it would also work as a light entree.
Next Gail and I shared the Kale Salas which consists of kale, apples, bacon lardons, goat cheese and pecans and then topped with maple bacon vinaigrette dressing. We got full very fast on this amazing salad and had to take most of it home. There were a whole lot of textures and flavors going on here that worked together magnificently. The softness of the cheese up against the chewy texture of the lardons and the crunchiness of the green apple was just a foodie’s dream.
There were a lot of rumors flying that BarBacon had awesome burgers before I even made my reservation, so Gail and I just had to split one despite being so full from the intense Kale Salad. We ordered one done “medium and it came topped with honey mustard glazed bacon on a freshly baked pretzel roll. You get a choice of cheeses and we picked Gruyere which was nice and ooey-gooey when melted. The meat was of prime quality and grass-fed–it oozed plenty of juice just how I like my fantasy burger to. I loved the golden house fries served in a cute little metal frying basket that accompanied the burger (which is officially called the BarBacon Burger, by the way).
We had the glorious Brussels Sprouts as a side. These are no ordinary Brussels Sprouts; they come in a cast iron skillet “fully loaded” with Vietnamese glaze, Greek yogurt, crispy shallots and of course, bacon. These are so satisfying that they can fill two people up enough to make them not want to order anything else. This is the richest Brussel Spouts dish you will ever have; I can guarantee you that. All the flavors coming together is truly a heady, fragrant and tummy satisfying experience.
Even though we knew we would be getting delicious golden Idaho fries with out BarBacon Burger, we had to try their highly heralded Tator Tots with Barbacon seasoning. The seasoning mix is top secret but besides salt and pepper I could definitely taste some rosemary. The Tator Tots were topped with Greek yogurt sauce but there was ketchup on the for those who need to go “All American” with their tots. You can get your tots without the yogurt sauce entirely but I thought it was a unique and flavorful punch. We filled up fast on these and had to take more than half of them home.
The most popular dessert at BarBacon is (not surprisingly) Chocolate Covered Bacon served with a side of homemade whipped cream. You get three long chocolatey strips per portion. Gail and I were too full to try them but I plan on going back to do so soon. Although we did not order a dessert at BarBacon, the kind Sherman sent us home with super large buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies made from his mom’s own recipe that includes pieces of chocolate much larger than just chips (these pieces were as big as fun size Hershey Bars) and pecans. Sherman told me rather modestly, “They are a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe handed down from my mother. There is no real trick just a slid recipe that is nostalgic to me. They were my favorite cookie growing up and my breakfast most mornings now as an adult.“
For those who want the most bacon-y experience of all, a sampler plate of just BarBacon’s assorted artisanal bacon is available for only $15 and it’s perfect when teamed up with their many draft beers on tap. BarBacon is family friendly and definitely has the vibe of a neighborhood hangout. The staff is friendly and prices are super reasonable–entrees average about $17 and appetizers average about $7 (and as I said before, most items are big enough to share). Reservations are not necessary. For more info on both locations, go to www.barbacon.com. They do deliver as well. Hats off to both Peter Sherman and his chef Nicholas Karoly for being so inventive and creative.