Barenz promotes itself as a Tapas restaurant and wine bar but then adds that Barenz is anything you want it to be. Well for me, Barenz is like a big gastro pub but without the pokies. There's a large bar that's more cocktail than beer. There's seating that spreads from the street through two levels with outdoor seating at the rear.
There's plenty of atmospherics at play here at Barenz. Our dinner experience this Sunday night is done in near darkness. Large black and white pictures adorn the walls. 'Cool' music is playing at a fair volume. There are lit candles on small tables most of which have shared stools.
Ms Pam and I snaffle one of the rare tables that only have chairs. The restaurant is only half full early but with the music and party like chatter by the other patrons, noise is a constant factor at Barenz. We're handed menus which is heavy on cocktails, coffees and wines. The food menu is not huge and is variously headed starters, tapas, salads, pastas and pizza.
We're tempted by the beef and mozzarella arancini balls ($14.50) or a bruschetta topped with roasted eggplant, capsicum and bocconcini. In the end we opt for lemon infused salt and pepper calamari ($17.00), seared scallops and chorizo ($16.70), and what is called a ciabatta plate consisting of beetroot dip, braised pork neck with crispy apple and smashed peas, mint, and ricotta. ($18.00). Mmmm, interesting. Two glasses of wine are ordered and within 20 minutes we are tucking into a range of interesting contrasting flavours.
The dishes all look colourful and highlighted on the plate although I'm wondering that at over $4.00 a pop, these scallops must be an absolutely divine culinary sensation. Although I'm paying for the price of the scallop, it's the flavour of the chorizo that overwhelms the poor scallop. Tasty though.
For almost the same price, we are overwhelmed with a voluminous quantity of calamari. Not quite as crispy as I like them but dipped in the mayo, I'm not complaining.
The ciabatta plate is another creature altogether. It is a bizarre mixed marriage of dishes and ingredients. We both enjoy the contrasting flavours, textures and colours. Did it work? It's easily the best plate of the night.
Looking around the almost full restaurant, the patrons are almost all Gen Y'ers. Females Y'ers are sporting a variety of fashions, but it's the guy's fashion that I find interesting. I feel overdressed in a short sleeve collared shirt (worn out of course) jeans and sneakers. Even though it's reasonably cool, the vast majority of the Y'er blokes are in shorts, t-shirt and thongs like it's mandatory dress. Casual dining indeed.