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Barley’s Kitchen + Tap: New Look Retains Passion for Beer and Food

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For the past 20 years, Barley’s Brewhaus has been pouring an extensive selection of beers and serving consistently good pub fare. But a few months ago, they revealed a new identity that’s turning heads and helping us fall in love with them all over again. Re-branded as Barley’s Kitchen + Tap, the name isn’t the only thing that has changed. The food, always consistent but not necessarily trendy has moved from the wings and onto center stage.

“We will always be a place with beer in our DNA, but we also want people to come here for the food,” said Dave Brown, director of Operations for KC Hopps, the local group that owns Barley’s Kitchen + Tap. “We are so much more than just beer.” It was time to rework the menu to reflect emerging trends and to stay competitive in the exploding Kansas City food scene and vibrant beer community, and the new name reflects the shift in philosophy.

The upscale casual vibe hasn’t changed; it’s as inviting and comfortable as it’s always been. What has changed is the emphasis on sophistication and creativity within the menu, led by Executive Chef Ryan Sneed. There is a huge selection here, including small plates, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and entrees that highlight the best Kansas City has to offer. They feature locally crafted sausages, pork that is slow roasted for seven hours, and an all-natural, locally raised Kansas City Strip that melts in your mouth.

Barley’s is a favorite date night destination of ours, and I have a lot of favorites. Sometimes I find large menus overwhelming, but at Barley’s that’s not the case; I always find something intriguing that sounds just right. I love to try new things here, and I can order with confidence because I know that the quality is superb throughout
the menu.

I love to start with the Bruschetta; each of the three versions is so different, fresh and absolutely delicious. If I’m dieting, the Seared Tuna Tataki Salad is my next healthy choice. Sometimes ordering a salad is a bit depressing but with this one you’ll be well satisfied and guilt free when your meal’s finished. If you aren’t counting calories, Three Little Pigs flatbread, one of the most popular items, is a complex and creative take on a pizza, and every bite is different from the previous one.

Behind every great meal is a great beverage, and Barley’s stands ready to pour whatever your heart desires. All of their bartenders and cocktail servers are required to have at least a level one cicerone certification. A certified beer server is an expert in proper glassware, pouring and handling the liquid gold, and they can recommend pairings or flights based on your personal preferences. They are nice to have around when you’re staring at 99 taps and trying to make a choice. The staff at Barley’s is passionate about the brew, and it shows in the time they take to help you select the perfect beer. But if it’s not beer you’re after, fear not.

One of the features of the new Barley’s is the Kombucha on tap. Haven’t heard of Kombucha? It’s a trendy hipster beverage said to have all sorts of health benefits from weight loss to mental clarity. Barley’s partners with Tea-Biotics to offer artisanal Kombucha in two delicious flavors that make you forget it’s made from a colony of bacteria and yeast. It does taste delicious on its own, but Barley’s goes a step further by offering boozy Kombucha. Add champagne to the artisanal blueberry kombucha and you’ve got a sparkler that will give your Sunday brunch a healthy, bubbly buzz.

Brunch, the glorious meal that combines the best of breakfast and lunch and pairs it with mimosas, is a regular weekend occurrence here, but it’s April, and they’re offering a special Easter Brunch Buffet for a mere $21 per person. It’s a decadent spread of brunch classics, plus some house specialties such as Root Beer Braised Ham and Fennel and Herb Crusted Prime Rib. You can also get made-to-order omelets and Belgian waffles. Reservations are recommended! For the planners out there, a heads up: a brunch buffet is also planned for Mother’s Day, but with the added bonus of bottomless Mimosas for the special ladies in your life.

Happy Hour is especially happy at Barley’s, whether you’re a beer lover or not. Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., wine, cocktails and martinis are half off. I recommend the Bull in the Tropics martini; at $4.50, it’s much cheaper than a plane ticket to the Bahamas but it tastes like a white sand beach and all-inclusive resort. Pints are a mere $3.50, and you have 99 beers on the wall to choose from. Of course, you’ll need a bite or two to accompany your beverage of choice. Appetizers are available between $4 and $8, and all of your favorites are here: wings, spinach artichoke dip, calamari, giant pretzels and more.

Barley’s has a full calendar of public events for beer geeks and enthusiasts. At Beer School, local brewers talk about their processes for making a unique brew. Tap Takeovers are an opportunity for local and regional brewers to test out new varietals and get their exclusive or limited products into the glasses of real beer lovers. At the Shawnee location, there is live music every Saturday night. A complete calendar of upcoming events at both locations is available on their website. ■

Visit the Barley’s Kitchen + Tap near you, in Shawnee at 16649 Midland Drive, or Overland Park, 11924 W. 119th Street; has menus and the monthly events.