NEW YORK TIMES
BARRIQUE Kitchen and Wine Bar, which opened in Babylon Village, is a wine lover’s dream. Fifty of the 150 wines on the list are available as half-bottles; 30 are sold by the glass in either three-ounce or six-ounce pours. And the restaurant will open any bottle on the list and sell it by the glass to a customer who commits to buying two glasses.
Barrique takes its name from a type of barrel used in winemaking; bottles, barrels and wooden wine crates make up much of the décor. A beamed ceiling and lots of brick give the place a cozy, rustic ambience. Tables are bare wood; napkins look like French dish towels.
Barrique is owned by the Babylon Restaurant Group, which also runs the Argyle Grill and Tavern, a lively 10-year-old spot across the street. Barrique is just as lively and noisy, but it has something its older sibling lacks: the cooking of Pierre Rougey.
Mr. Rougey, the executive chef, had been the chef and co-owner of Emerson’s, the cafe that occupied these premises before Barrique. His menu is designed for sampling; every table is set with stacks of plates for sharing.
The cheese platter is an appropriate opener at this wine-centered place. Diners can pick two, three or four from a list of nine cheeses (mostly old favorites like Brie and fontina). Their choices arrive on a wooden board with slices of French bread and small bowls of toasted almonds, dried apricots and honey.
Thin-crust pizza is another dish made for sharing. The margherita, which included roasted garlic, was cracker-thin and very tasty.
Eggplant caponata, listed with the side dishes, also made a fine starter. Though oddly served hot, it was a flavor-packed, generous portion, served with a plate of toasts.
We also tried two inventive salads: arugula and goat cheese with pickled fennel and a beet vinaigrette, and field greens with feta and basil in a white balsamic vinaigrette, all ringed with cubes of watermelon. I would have enjoyed them even more if the servers had brought bread to the table.
Each of the small plates on the menu, all under $15, can serve as either an opener or an entree. Lighter choices included delicious roasted baby octopus with braised romaine, olive oil and red chili, and a pair of meaty crab cakes atop a black bean salsa, drizzled with a snappy chili aioli.
Among the heftier small plates was the tasty, tender, prosciutto-wrapped pork loin with wilted spinach and a mustard sauce. A striped-bass special ($16) was another winner: a pan-seared fillet atop jasmine rice and sautéed leeks, in a lush white wine sauce.
Lamb chops were three good-size ones with parsley crusts, served with a rosemary sauce and accompanied by sautéed spinach and crispy onions. Other hits were tender short ribs in a red wine sauce, seared scallops atop julienned sweet peppers, and a prime, marinated and sliced flatiron steak with braised radicchio and a creamy horseradish sauce. Good side orders include polenta fries and French fries, which were tasty though limp.
The staff couldn’t be nicer, but the runners deliver the dishes as they are cooked, so some diners are left waiting while others at the table get their food. Sharing helps alleviate such problems.
Desserts, like everything else on the menu, are small ($3.50 each) and presented in scaled-down parfait glasses. Our favorite, called apple pie, was crustless, consisting of house-made caramel sauce, sautéed apples, crème anglaise and whipped cream. The Key lime contained graham cracker crumbs, lime mousse and whipped cream, while cheesecake translated to sliced strawberries, a port wine sauce, almond cake, cream cheese and whipped cream.
The sweets were a nice ending to a meal full of conviviality and good food. Barrique offers plenty of both.
Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar
69 Deer Park Avenue
THE SPACE Small, cozy, rustic wine bar and restaurant. Wheelchair accessible.
THE CROWD Young, fun-loving, loud. Few children. The young, casual, amiable staff fits right in.
THE BAR More than half the space, with seating at a long bar and at a shelf that encircles the area. Wine list of 150 bottles (full bottles $21 to $98, halves $18 to $90); 30 wines by the six-ounce glass, $8 to $21, or by the three-ounce pour, mostly $4 to $6.
THE BILL Prices are reasonable. Entrees range from $9 (chicken sandwich) to $15 (flatiron steak); pizzas are $12 to $13. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.
WHAT WE LIKED Cheese plate, arugula salad, watermelon salad, eggplant caponata, polenta fries, roasted baby octopus, seared scallops, striped bass, lamb chops, flatiron steak, braised short ribs, pork loin, crab cakes, Key lime dessert, apple pie, cheesecake.