Written by: Isabella Janovick
Photos by: Kyle Janovick
During our nice holiday break my husband and I were in search of some new restaurants that would complement his meat-lovers diet and my vegetarian one. Sometimes it is hard to find a restaurant that will satisfy both needs, but with all these new places popping up in Oceanside, it is becoming easier. I myself am a big wino and a craft beer snob. I had heard the name Barrel Republic, but I didn't really know anything about their menu or setup. Just the word "barrel", which could refer to beer or wine, caught my attention and we gave it a go.
When we walked in we were greeted and asked for a credit card. I gave a confusing look since this is not the typical hello one receives when entering a restaurant. The host than further explained that every patron obtains a wristband to wear that has a chip in it which turns on the beer and wine valves. Once a valve is turned on, your pour, no matter what size, is measured and totaled at the end of your visit. Hmm, interesting concept.
We sat at a table and like a kid in a frozen yogurt shop, I walked around several times reading the beer and wine labels and descriptions until I finally chose my first beer. The food part was kind of confusing similar to our greeting at the door. We waited a while for a server to come up to us. It almost felt like there should be a window that you go up to if you want to order food instead of being served, but maybe we just went at an off time or an off day.
My husband ordered the bacon wrapped pork belly as an appetizer, (typical meat eater) and I ordered the spicy butternut mac and cheese. Our main dishes were the barrel burger and the wild mushroom garbanzo burger. Although the appetizers were tasty, they were both very rich and made to be shared by a group, rather just 1 or 2 people.
The mac and cheese definitely had a kick of heat to it, which I appreciated, and the kale and almonds added a nice touch. The burgers on the other hand were of perfect size and absolutely amazing! The presentation of the meals was top notch, the ingredients were fresh and we ate every darn bite. I paired my meal with a few different beers while my designated driver stuck to soda. Having eaten various different types of "veggie" burgers I was very impressed with the patty's moistness, flavor and how they used greek yogurt instead of an unhealthy mayo.
Besides the confusion on entering and ordering food, the Barrel Republic is definitely a place I would recommend to others and go back to again. There are a few other items I would love to try, and of course the many beers on tap as well. It is nice to have so many local brewery options in one establishment and even better that you can have "tasters" instead of committing to an entire pint.