The Scoop Houston: Barnaby’s Cafe
Photo By: Barnaby’s Cafe
“Barnaby was a big sheepdog who went to heaven when I was 12. He brought me much joy and happiness. Years later when I opened my first restaurant, I named it after my favorite childhood pal. We hope you enjoy your visit.”
With a moniker so sentimental, it is no surprise that the owner of Barnaby’s Café has put his heart and soul into this local neighborhood joint. Barnaby’s, known for its consistently fresh and healthy dishes and dog (and human) friendly patios, is located in a handful of Houston neighborhoods. I most often visit the one closest to my office in the Galleria area for lunch and the Baby Barnaby’s location in Montrose for breakfast. On this particular lunch date with two of my co-workers, we got lucky and only had to wait 10 minutes for a table, but you can expect a longer wait if you stop by during peak lunch hours. During your wait, you will likely notice the playful, dog-themed décor on the walls and servers whisking by with mountainous bowls of salad.
While the one-page paper menu, that only lists dish names and prices, may be too simple for some, I see it as an opportunity to get the scoop on the best dishes from the exceptionally well-trained servers. (Or, if you prefer to browse the menu on your own, they kindly provide a QR code in the bottom corner to scan for the full menu descriptions—tech-savviness required.) Upon this visit, for example, a server took my vegetarian-experimenting co-worker through all of the meatless options on the menu (they have 4 different types veggie burgers), including a way she could replace meat in one of their popular dishes, and the winner of my personal “Best %*@&ing Salad in Houston” award.
I admit, I can exaggerate at times. The words “Guys, I had the BEST burger ever today”, “That sushi was so good I literally DIED”, and “Those truffle fries are better than life itself” have all come out of my mouth at some point or another. But when I eat something so good that it makes me start spitting out hyperboles, I need to make sure other people know about it. This is how I feel about the Chinese Chicken Salad at Barnaby’s Café. It is PERFECT. The mix of iceberg lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and romaine lettuce, act as a crisp foundation, and in accompaniment with toasty tortilla strips, bring a powerful crunch to this multi-dimensional salad. Generous layers of tender, finely shredded, grilled then chilled chicken breast are woven in to balance out the texture of the salad mix. The part that makes my mouth water and keeps me coming back week after week is the dynamic duo of dressings: A light, acidic, honey-lime vinaigrette dresses the entire salad, while a thick, creamy peanut dressing is expertly drizzled on top. With their powers combined, these dressings pack a sweet and tangy punch that bring the entire salad together.
If you are not in the mood for the best salad on the planet, Barnaby’s menu offers a wide variety of mouth-watering lunch options, from a simple homemade egg salad sandwich to baby back ribs and everything in between. If you manage to find something that you don’t like, call me up and I will gladly take it off your hands for you. That is both a promise and a threat.