date of visit: Sunday 4 Sept 2011
To be perfectly honest, I forgot that it was Fathers Day* so I thought nipping for an early dinner in town (and when I say early, I mean 6pm-ish) wouldn’t be a problem. By the time I remembered the occasion, we were already committed and it turned out I needn’t have worried.
When we arrived at Bareñdoe we actually thought it was shut. The restaurant has two rooms that face Hutt Street and the first was full of stacked tables and chairs and in darkness. Someone sitting out the front having a coffee pointed us towards the right door.
The restaurant has quite a plush feel to it: carpets, leather (or at least leather like – I didn’t spend that much time inspecting) chairs, and proper cloth napkins. The décor is very contemporary.
When we arrived, there was just one other table (of four) seated. Usually if we are out with the pram and baby I ring venues ahead, to make sure they can (and are happy to) accommodate us but on this occasion I hadn’t. We were able to snuggle ourselves into a corner near the bar without too much hassle but it was cosy. Still, Bareñdoe isn’t really the type of restaurant you’d drag a small child to on a Friday night and there were definitely plus points as the staff were happy to shift tables and chairs around so we could squeeze in the pram.
As we were there for a quick dinner, we only tried out the main courses. Andy ordered the Italiano calzone (declared by one friend to be the “best calzone ever”) and I chose the linguine marinara. Both were very nice – Andy was not sure that, while very tasty, the calzone could be described as the best ever. My linguine ticked a lot of boxes – the pasta was al dente, the seasoning was good, the amount of chilli was just right. However, one of my clams had remained resolutely shut and should never have made it out of the kitchen. Also, the menu describes the dish as calamari, scallops, prawns and clams but on my plate mussels substituted for the scallops. While this doesn’t make any difference to me, it’s the type of thing that customers should be told about when ordering. I imagine plenty of people like scallops but not mussels and maybe some people are even allergic to one but not the other (I know shellfish can be a bit funny like that).
Service wise things were OK. There were no blatant faux pas, and there was nothing particularly stellar about our experience. Bareñdoe does indulge in one of my pet hates – the comedy oversized pepper mill being brought to the table and we did have to wait a little while when it came to sorting out the bill (given that by that point there were a whole two other tables occupied no one can blame an unexpected rush for front of house staff).
Overall, we both felt that, while we had enjoyed our food, it was just a trifle expensive ($22 for the calzone, $27 for the pasta). It was as though everything was trying just a little too hard to be something it wasn’t. While it’s very pleasant to eat in a restaurant with carpet and soft furnishings (and much reduced clatter, as a result) this alone doesn’t push it out to a fine dining experience. And I’m not convinced that that’s where Bareñdoe should be aiming.
While I’d be happy to eat at Bareñdoe again, I don’t think we’ll be rushing back. But you should probably make up your own mind on the calzone!
*No discussion on the lack of apostrophe, please. If you take the approach that it’s a day for fathers then there’s no implied possession and no need for an apostrophe.