Date Night: Le Barricou
Stepping into Le Barricou in the evening is like stepping into a certain iPhone app. The restaurant's low candlelight bouncing off the wood turns everything Hipstamatic. Giant sprigs of spring decorated the long bar, the only spots of color. The lo-fi songs turned up loud adds to the contemporary feel: Le Barricou might serve classic southern French specialties, but the atmosphere is totally now, totally wow.
We started with a Brussels sprouts-and-endive appetizer ($8; the restaurant is cash only), sprinkled with walnuts and drizzled with a cranberry-rhubarb sauce. The sprouts had been sliced and sauteed, their heat wilting the leafy greens. The cranberries had developed the consistency of popcorn in the bottom of the bucket, buttery and slightly tacky.
Instead of gnocchi stuffed with rabbit, the rabbit gnocchi ($14) appetizer offered soft gnocchi swimming in a stew. No wonder we were given a spoon. The protein gets braised and shredded, rendered quite similar in appearance to pulled pork, albeit with a gamier taste. It's a bowl of homey warmth.
Served with hand-cut pomme frites, Le Barricou sandwich ($11) started to sog by the time it hit our table. Was it the pickled red onions? The watermelon radishes? The feta or caper mayo? Something, or some combination of things, turned the French country bread into less a fluffy podium on which to display grilled chicken breast and more a used towel. The flavors, however, were very good, a testament to the righteousness of the ingredients.
Sold on the specials, we ordered a second as our entree: shrimp and linguine ($22). We'd heard tell of shards of squash, but we really only had eyes for the shrimp and homemade pasta, doused in white wine and lots of garlic. Its spiky wholesomeness turned us into automatons, and we kept eating, long after our brains told our hands to put down the fork, fatty.
At some point during our dinner, however, we stopped drinking our water, due to the over-attentiveness of the waitstaff. Occasionally, the candles flickered really low, and we were eating in Brooklyn's equivalent of Dans le Noir. But there are worse problems to have than too much water and sometimes not being able to see your food. With its impossible-to-dislike atmosphere and cooking, Le Barricou is best for: a first date.
About the authors: Jessica Allen and Garrett Ziegler have been eating out together since 2002 and writing We Heart New York since 2006.