Bustling. That’s the best word to describe the atmosphere inside The Barrel House a week before its grand opening on June 20. Servers set tables and roll silverware. Bartenders organized bottles and glasses. The kitchen staff could be heard over the sizzle of food cooking on the grill. And owners Chris and Sandy Brown were at the center of it all.
One year ago, Chris took interest in the former Show-Me’s Sports Bar & Grill and Mattingly’s 23 building at 1700 Morgan Center Drive by Showplace Cinemas East.
“The property had been vacant for a long time, so we wanted to revive the building and start something new,” Chris says.
The Browns gutted the building, and renovations were nearly complete before Chris had settled on a name. “The Barrel House” emerged as the winner and was crafted into a theme through the decor — barrel wallpaper in the bathroom entrances and branded whiskey barrel caps on the walls — and the menu, with one of the bar’s 16 taps dispensing a Barrel Stout specially crafted by Myriad Brewing Company.
“It’s laid back and comfortable, with TVs that can play music and sports games, and it’s obviously kid friendly,” Sandy adds. “(The menu) is a little bit of everything from flatbreads to steaks. It’s really versatile. We want to appeal to everyone.”
Chris and Sandy had the vision for the menu, while an executive chef handled the implementation.
An infrared grill that reaches up to 1,100 degrees improves sear time and quality on steaks like the melt-in-your-mouth Barrel Cut Filet. Each steak is topped off with one of the restaurant’s secret weapons: compound butters flavored with truffles, Cajun seasoning, and garlic pesto.
Sandy says her favorite dish is the pepperoni rolls, but the Blueberry Goat Cheese Flatbread is the most intriguing menu item. A delicate, crepe-like crust topped with fresh blueberries, goat cheese crumbles, orange marmalade, a hefty drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey, lemon zest, and mint, the shareable meal is a charcuterie board on bread.
In fact, Sandy found inspiration for the flavor profile in a charcuterie board.
“I was researching ideas for flatbreads and that cheese is really popular in the charcuterie trends on TikTok,” she says.
For guests craving something savory rather than sweet, the menu offers seven standout burgers. The Mac N Cheeseburger is a gooey titan requiring some finesse to eat. A thick beef patty on a pretzel bun is loaded with a creamy but light mac and cheese of mozzarella and cheddar and drizzled with Sriracha.
The Bourbon Bacon Burger is another hearty dish served on a pretzel bun. The subtle spice of pepper jack cheese on this patty is satisfyingly concealed by a sweet, tangy house-made bourbon bacon jam filled with onions, maple syrup, bacon crumbles, and bourbon — all flavor notes that complement bacon’s smoky tones.
With 250 seats across the dining room, bar, and large concrete patio, The Barrel House is in a position to accommodate Evansville’s eager eaters. Employees even have been completing mock meals for the Browns’ family members and friends to test their skills and prepare for opening.
“We’re really lucky. We’ve been able to gather a really strong crew,” Sandy says. “Everyone that comes in, you hope they have a good experience, and they want to come back. You want the best experience from start to finish.”
Starting June 20, The Barrel House will be open seven days a week: weekdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., weekends from 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.