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Barley House meal
This is the Barley House version of a shepherd's pie.
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Barley House interior 1
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Barley House interior 2
Even an Irish flag!
As the University of Akron becomes more and more a part of downtown Akron, the south end of Main Street near the Canal Place ballpark is seeing an increase in the number of businesses aimed at helping college students spend their non-tuition dollars. This is especially true with the number of nightclubs and sports bar type restaurants popping up from the old O'Neils Building and Mayflower Hotel south.
A perfect example is the Barley House, which now occupies about one-half of the ground floor of the former anchor department store. This is a pretty big space for a restaurant operation, and indeed, I am told the quintessential time to see what the Barley House is really about is after the dinner hour. That's when the bar and dance floor come alive. In the meantime, it's open from 11 AM until 2 AM, so there has to be sufficient downtown restaurant business to support the staff.
A close relative of the same sort of operation in downtown Cleveland, there is an Irish pub theme in play here, complete with green and orange flags hung in the ceiling. Lots of flat screen TVs, fairly loud music even during the lunch hour, and more neon beer signs and screen-printed banners than paint on the walls. The pub menu is fairly extensive...I might go so far as to call it overwhelming. Lots of different things, many of them done well, one or two not so much. While I think the soups and burgers are awesome, even creative, I would avoid their take on Shepherd's Pie, a kind of greasy hamburger stew with potato cakes (instead of mashed potatoes) on top. That's it, in the photos.
On the other hand, Barley House has wonderful appetizers and salads, and the main reason I keep going back is because you can easily make a cost-effective meal out of these. Currently, if you visit the web site for the Akron location, none of the menu links are working. But if you want to get an idea of the wide range of these offerings, and the way they actually look, you can visit the Cleveland location's web site here: www.barleyhousecleveland.com/
Any bar trying to be Irish that makes a passable Black & Tan is OK with me...one recently departed “Irish” establishment always tried to foist off a Black & Blue instead, because they never actually had any Bass Ale on tap! You don't have to worry about this at the Barley House. You should know, however, that the Black & Tan is not really the traditional Irish libation we make it out to be here in the USA...it's more our invention than theirs.
If you would like the opportunity to explore the Barley House menu, here's a link to the Akron web site. I should warn you that some of the links within the site, particularly the menu downloads, were not working as I write this blog entry: http://www.barleyhouseakron.com/