Eating Out With Kids: Checking Out Barrel & Boar BBQ Gastropub
Notable barbecue, comfort food and delicious desserts at this small Central Ohio chain will please a variety of palates.
Melissa Kossler Dutton and her family, including sons Nick, 17, and Alex, 15, visited the Gahanna location of Barrel & Boar BBQ Gastropubs. The local barbecue chain, formerly known as Holy Smoke BBQ, has six locations around Central Ohio.
When we learned that David Tetzloff, the former co-owner and executive chef of G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar in German Village, was taking a role at Barrel & Boar BBQ Gastropubs, our family was delighted. G. Michael’s was a favorite date night spot for my husband and me before it closed in 2021. While the boys only ate there once, for a dining review, they fondly remember the experience.
Having Tetzloff on board at the more casual (and less expensive) restaurant provides an opportunity for our whole family to enjoy good food, so we were eager to give Barrel & Boar a try. During our meal at the Gahanna location, several staff members talked enthusiastically about Tetzloff’s influence and said to watch for some new entrées, including more vegetarian options, in the coming months.
The current menu has many mouthwatering options, and I decided to order the Ohio Brown Sugar Pork Chop ($17.99, or $34.99 for two chops). The pork chop was great. At home, I struggle with pork chops so much that Alex dubbed them “squishy chicken.” I never seem to get that crispy sear that Barrel & Boar nailed. Topped with an apple bacon compote and served over apple butter mashed sweet potatoes, this dish hit all the right notes. The sweetness of brown sugar paired wonderfully with the slightly tart potatoes. Like any good comfort food, the dish was generously portioned and very filling.
We followed our meals with another round of comfort food: pumpkin bread pudding ($6.99) and banana moonpie trifle ($7.99). I enjoyed them both, but my favorite was the bread pudding. It was prepared with maple syrup, which gave a nice, caramelized flavor, and plenty of fresh whipped cream.
Regardless of whether Tetzloff’s hand has already influenced Barrel & Boar’s menu or the best is yet to come, we will be back.
When I realized we were going to Barrel & Boar, I was excited. I had been to their Newark location once and enjoyed the food. I was not expecting what I saw when I walked into their Gahanna restaurant. The atmosphere was very fancy. The other location was a pretty typical barbecue place—nice but not fancy. This restaurant had black tablecloths and elegant décor. The bathrooms were of the same caliber. They were clean, but the men’s room lacked a changing station.
When we sat down at the table, the waitress was very friendly. I was debating between the spicy barbecue mac ’n’ cheese and the pimento mac, so I asked the waitress what she thought. She recommended the spicy barbecue ($18.36) but warned me it was too hot for her. Despite the warning, I thought it was very mild. That is my only complaint about the dish because, despite its lack of significant heat, it was delicious. The noodles were soft, and the sauce was rich and creamy. It was topped with roasted, spicy pepper slices that paired well with the cheese and meat. The brisket I got on it was also really good. It was tender, flavorful and didn’t have any fatty bits. It was a tasty complement to the smooth and creamy cheese. The sauce that topped the dish was a smoky barbecue When all the elements mixed together, they created a delicious mac ’n’ cheese dish that I definitely would order again.
My family had mixed opinions about the chicken wings (five for $9.99) we ordered. However, I liked them. The sauce was really good, and they were very flavorful. They were a little dry, but I really didn’t mind. I would recommend going someplace else if you really wanted wings, though.
The final thing I want to mention is the pumpkin bread pudding. This is the best dessert I have eaten in a while. The concept seems strange, but after trying it I think it is genius. The subtle pumpkin flavor with the spices and seasonings is delicious. The creamy sauce (a combination of maple syrup and whipped cream) and soft bread melted in my mouth, and the idea of using pumpkin in bread pudding is clearly a win. I was left thinking how I had never seen this idea before.
Overall, my experience at Barrel & Boar was overwhelmingly good. The clean and fancy atmosphere and the scrumptious food was all great. I can’t wait to go back.
When I walked into Barrel & Boar, the first thing that I noticed was that it looked very fancy but still felt like a barbecue restaurant. For my meal, I went with the brisket, as that is my go-to choice for barbecue. I also suggested we order some wings for the table to share, and I got a side of fries and a brown sugar iced tea.
I ordered my brisket ($19.63) with a bun and pickles and was not disappointed. My sandwich came bursting with meat and had enough pickles to cover every inch—a good thing by Dutton standards. I could tell right away the bun was high quality, and it made a great topper to my sandwich. The sandwich, all in all, was amazing.
The pickles were sweet, which I’m not typically a fan of, but these balanced the sweetness with the tanginess of the vinegar perfectly. The pickles came with some pickled green peppers that were also delicious. The brisket, which had a faint smoky taste, was incredibly tender. The sandwich was so delicious, I ate half of it before even thinking about adding barbecue sauce. I tasted the regular and chipotle sauce options. Both had the same perfect mix of sweetness and tang that the pickles did, with the chipotle version adding some light heat to the equation.
The texture of the sauces also was nice and avoided the too-perfect, processed texture you get with store-bought. You could definitely taste that it was homemade. The one disappointment I had was the chicken wings. The wing I had was really dry and had so little Buffalo sauce I could barely taste it. That being said, the ribs (on Sunday dinner special for $1.50 each), which my dad ordered and shared with me, made up for it tenfold.
My dad makes some mean ribs, and I’m used to eating ribs at restaurants and saying, “They’re good but they don’t beat Dad’s.” Not this time. These ribs were the best barbecue I have had in my entire life. I’m not being overly dramatic when I say these ribs leave me lacking the adequate words to describe them. The outside alone was infused with more flavor than all the ribs I’ve eaten put together. The meat just melted in my mouth, and there were no hunks of fat like you sometimes get. To put barbecue sauce on these ribs would have been a crime (despite how good theirs is).
Overall, I would strongly recommend you go to Barrel & Boar. In fact, if you’re reading this and it’s a Sunday, get in your car right now and go get some ribs.
The Details: Barrel & Boar BBQ Gastropubs
121 Mill St., Gahanna, 614-471-8844
Other locations: 10 S. High St., Canal Winchester, 614-300-5303; 5 N. Third St., Newark, 740-258-6017; North Market, 59 Spruce St., Columbus, 614-392-1079; 8 N. State St., Westerville, 614-300-5014; BBQ Factory, 1217 S. Broad St., Lancaster, 740-901-3000
Hours: Varies by location
Prices: Dinner entrées range from several sandwiches for $10.45 each to $39.75 for the New York strip. In addition to barbecue, they offer a great mix of fish, chicken and salads. The kids menu features eight entrée choices from a $1.99 taco to $5.79 ribs, as well as a variety of sides, including salad and fruit. Menus and prices vary by location.
What They Thought About Their Visit
Mom: Ohio Brown Sugar Pork Chop
Nick: Pumpkin bread pudding
This story is from the Spring 2022 issue of Columbus Parent.