I continue to re-review places in Ottawa that I haven't tried in a long time, and the Barley Mow was on my list.
Almost a year ago (was it really that long ago?) I went to the Westboro location to do my first actual review of this Ottawa area pub chain, but never got around to posting the review (just a mini-one in my End of Year Review). I had never done an actual review, and had in the past only had their wings at the Orleans location in a brunch buffet setting where they were just ok. Back then they were just another generic pub, but these days they have tried to reinvent themselves as a gastro-pub.
The Westboro location is one of the newest chapters fo the chain but has been around for a few years now. Inside is slightly dark, with a classy yet rustic feel. It's very clean and sleek yet contrasted nicely with lots of wood features. There are sports on the screens around the pub, but there were lots of folks working on laptops and having a pint.
Now I knew that the Barley Mow has wing night on Thursdays from my last trip, but the sandwich board at the entryway was a nice reminder that they have 1/2 price wings after 4pm.
I scanned the menu and found the wing section. I was shocked at the $16 price point for the wings. $16 for what would turn out to be 8 wings was a little crazy. Thank goodness for wing night.
I went with a double order of wings and they didn't take long to arrive. I forgot that the orders came with a side of fries, so each was a big order of food.
The fries are fresh-cut, with the skins still on. They were slightly limp, but also crispy. They were seasoned well and I gotta say, they were very good. They come with a side of ketchup. I would have added vinegar, but I didn't bother because I knew I was going to be taking most of them home with me. Plus there was other dip to go with them ...
The wings come with Garlic Ranch Dip. No veggies (unless you count the fries as veggies). This was a very nice, creamy, garlicky dipping sauce. It went really well with the Cajun wings especially. Good with the fries too. Ok good for almost straight up drinking.
The wings only come in one order size which is about 8 wings per order. The menu actually says there is an option of Seasoned or Battered. I wasn't offered either and I didn't ask. Not quite sure which I got but I would guess battered because there was just a hint of extra coating on the wing, but it wasn't a full on breading or battering that one would normally expect.
The wings were about a medium in length give or take. Nothing too special. In terms of meatiness they were again about a medium with some being a bit more.
The skin was crackling crisp (on the dry Cajun wings anyway) and deep fried very nicely. If there was a batter, it was doing a nice job on that skin. The meat was relatively tender too. There was just enough sauce on them to be considered wet, but not as much as I would like.
When I was at the Barley Mow last year, I had tried the Hot with a side of suicide, and dry BBQ with a side of the 40 Creek BBQ. They discontinued the dry BBQ (which I found pretty undetectable). The Hot was standard hot and the suicide was too sour for my liking. The BBQ was slightly sweet and smokey.
Not really wanting to do those flavours again, I went with Hot, Cajun, and a side of the Maple Bacon BBQ to change things up.
The Medium sauce was ok. Slightly gooey, more sweet than a hot, but nothing bold or flavourful on their own.
This dry rub was also, ok. As you can see it was a very very light dusting, which gave the wings more of a salty taste than anything really Cajun.
MAPLE BACON BBQ
I really wanted to try something different, and Maple Bacon BBQ sauce seemed to be the way to go. I was very skeptical of this sauce (I'm not a huge maple bbq sauce fan) and I was right; this was just not fore me. It was cloyingly sweet from the maple, with some sour in there too. I could faintly taste a smokey bacon, but there was some sort of spice like cinnamon or nutmeg in there that really turned me off. Again, this isn't my type of sauce to begin with, but others might like it.
I just wasn't feeling the wings on this trip. They are a decent size and have a nice crackle-crispness to the skin. The sauces are ok. The sides are great - tasty fresh cut fries and a garlic ranch dip that is awesome. The price is crazy, so wing night is the only night I would bother with. The location is nice, and my waiter Matt was very attentive (when cleaning crews threw out my take-out container of leftover fries while I was in the bathroom, he went and got me a new take-out container of fresh fries!). Maybe the other food is great, but outside of Thursday nights I wouldn't bother with the wings. 8/15
The Barley Mow
399 Richmond Road (and other locations)