Sept. 21, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Tap Into Something Special With Barrel

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
The pork chop sandwich from Barrel restaurant is served with sugary beans and home-made chips.

Given that the aging process for each “cascading” beverage can run anywhere from two weeks to several months, Ingwell said the greatest challenge is plotting out the successive flavor profiles to build upon.

“They’re all designed to lead into the next one,” he said of the correlation between the specialty pours.

Most recently, the Brancamenta-filled barrels had to give way to a ready-made mint julep set to debut just in time to sate Kentucky Derby watchers.

We missed the mint julep, but did slurp our fair share of Brancamenta Buck. The curious cooler hit us like a mega blast of Binaca; the marriage of mint and ginger produced a slightly medicinal burst which dissolved into a spicy-sweet finish.

A tumbler of Brava Moda was more enticing. Smoky mezcal leads the charge. But as the complementary elements co-mingle, vanilla undertones and rum sweetness emerge. By the time the giant ice cube dwindles a bit, it’s cherry soda with a boozy bite.

The kitchen, helmed by Executive Chef Garret Fleming, is equally adept at bucking tradition.

A veteran of the nose-to-tail operation at The Pig, Ingwell noted that Fleming hand-crafts most everything in-house except for the Benton’s smoked country ham (Tennessee), Edwards’ Surryano ham (Surry, Va.) and some potato buns procured from neighboring Lyon Bakery. Fleming is purportedly excited about stepping up his charcuterie-making, but needs to clear some procedural hurdles — “There’s just a couple of licensing things we need to do,” Ingwell asserted — before going crazy with fermented sausages and the like.

In the meantime, Fleming has free rein to make his own fun via the trim but adventurous main carte.

“For the most part, we just leave it to him. It’s his menu,” Ingwell said.

Fleming gets his Lowcountry on via selections like slaw-topped, pulled-pork-stuffed sticky buns (zesty swine, chewy dough) and a mouth-watering fried chicken-led ensemble featuring crunchy bird, lusty sausage gravy and tangy orange jam.

A trio of Andouille “corn dogs” could double as a meal. The gourmet twist on county fair food wraps savory Cajun sausage and creamy kin to gouda in a soft and sweet cocoon.

Scallop salad is gorgeous but deadly. The seared bivalve is placed in a bed of shaved fennel and dotted with bright orange briny fish roe; what you can’t see is the searing chili oil drizzled atop everything. But you’ll taste it with every breathtaking inhalation.

A pork chop sandwich arrives flanked with fragrant baked beans and crispy house-made chips. The slow-cooked mass of sugary beans is bolstered by shredded pork and bourbon. The gut-busting sandwich tops a tender, lightly breaded chop with caramelized onions, melted fontal (mellowing) and piquant aioli.

Ingwell appears to be genuinely pleased that food sales have continued creeping up since opening day — “We knew that this would grow organically,” he suggested — but stressed that management always anticipated that booze would be the No. 1 driver.

“At the end of the day, we’re a bar,” he said.

But folks have already begun clamoring for additional dining options. And management is determined to give the people what they want.

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