First Course posts are my thoughts after my first time dining somewhere. While some may think it harsh to judge a restaurant after one visit, my first impressions play a large role in determining if I will return. Restaurants have to realize that about their customers and always bring their A game.
Verdict: might as well stop by. Patio is amazing, good beer list, and tasty cocktails make it worthwhile.
I first noticed Barley Hound while taking an afternoon walk. Suddenly beside Cuppers was a buzzing patio. With no discernable signage I was unsure if this was a new business, maybe a Prescott College mixer, perhaps a business picnic? A quick yelp consult told me it was the "hot and new" Barley Hound. Based on appearances--it looks like the kind of place the NY Times would feature--and the youthful patrons, a rarity in Prescott, I knew I had to return soon.
After a couple weeks I finally stopped in. I had been forewarned the menu is heavy on duck, but thought it was an exaggeration. Nope. Duck fat fries. Poutine over duck fat fries. Duck prosciutto. Duck burger. I feel like someone needs to check the wildlife at Watson Lake.
I settled on the Duck Burger after considering the lamb and brat burger. The duck just sounded better with its blend of duck and chuck burger, duck egg topper, foie gras butter, jam, etc. I chose the 20 mile salad as my side. The waitress made sure I didn't mind making a mess of my burger, which frankly was the best endorsement one could give a burger.
Tucking into the duck burger was an instantly underwhelming experience. The bun was dry and overwhelmed the burger's texture and flavor, which is to also say the burger's texture and flavor were nothing to write home about. The duck egg was...there. The foie gras butter was unnoticeable. And every now and then I got a pleasant hint of jam.
When I was first looking at the menu I was disappointed that clever names for the duck burger were overlooked, possibilities being Duck & Chuck, or Duck, Duck, Goose (duck meat, duck egg, foie gras). But I came to realize if the person tasked with naming the meals ate them first, then named them, it's unrealistic to think they'd come up with anything more exciting than "Duck Burger."
The 20 mile salad had a good tangy dressing and a nice assortment of veggies. I later came to know that it gained it's name by all the ingredients being sourced from within 20 miles of the restaurant. This was the best part of my meal, and when you enjoy your side salad more than your burger the cook should be embarrassed.
The ambiance and patio are what really shine about Barley Hound and they, coupled with the beer and cocktail menu, make it worth a visit.