Denton used to be the last place I would roadtrip to for a memorable dinner, but Barley & Board changed that. With recent developments, foodies continue to be impressed by this small town's ability to innovate age-old classics and even earn the title of "Best Burger in Dallas", courtesy of Barley & Board's namesake B&B Burger.
Housed in the space last held by the oldest hotel in Denton, Lucy's, Barley & Board transformed the space into an airy yet cozy environment, balancing the large first-floor dining area with private second-floor seating. The highlight of the first floor is their impressive freestanding bar, complete with a selection of 36 draft selections begging to be sampled. The seasonal menu of small and large plates is diverse, presenting carnivorous selections such as their burger and ribs alongside vegan and vegetarian options. I ordered their Motherboard ($28), Slow-roasted Pork Tenderloin ($19), B&B Burger ($12), and Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding ($8).
First of all, the Motherboard is a fantastic selection of B&B favorite cheeses, meats, and MANY in-house pickled items. I've had many pickles that were made in-house, but turned out too salty or too tart. I am very happy to say this is not an issue here, with their pickles being the perfect mix of savory and sweet (also a great addition in their B&B Burger). The true standout of the Motherboard was undoubtedly the Raspberry Bourbon spread, made in-house. Throw caution to the wind and smother everything in it. No regrets. Other highlights included the blue cheese, in-house mustard, pickled olives, and pickled raisins. Basically everything you see is made in-house except the meat, cheese, and bread, which they source from small-batch artisan shops. Good as: draft tasting pair, appetizer, something to dilute your 5th cocktail.
If you order the Slow-roasted Pork Tenderloin, you better buckle up and prepare for little bites of heaven. Tender and flavorful, they first brine the meat for 36 hours, followed by a sous-vide to a perfect med-rare, and lastly a lovely grill. This classic dish is paired with elote (Mexican corn) to rival Fuel City, crispy onions, and chipotle honey. The Mexican take on the dish is both complementary and refreshing, and this should be a mandatory dish to try when you visit.
I was pretty skeptical when ordering the burger...who would have thought the best burger in DFW was made in Denton? To my surprise, the famous B&B Burger lived up to its reputation. Juicy, loaded up with grilled onion and their house pickles, yet not overwhelming or overstimulating. This is the burger you will crave anytime you crave a burger, and the drive to Denton is worth taking that first, juicy bite alone. In fact, my mouth is already watering as I write this, expect this to get messy, melted American cheese and house sauce getting everywhere. Ask for extra napkins. Paired with flavorful shoestring fries, this goes well with The Johnson or a draft sampler.
If you still have room for dessert and a sweet-tooth, get the Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding. It's very rich and drizzled with hot chocolate & white chocolate syrup. If you don't finish it, take it home and eat it at midnight like the wild animal you are. It's held together by a Willie Wonka amount of chocolate, but the top is still perfectly caramelized.
If you've ever been to Denton and you love craft cocktails, you've been to Paschall Bar. Good news, the geniuses behind their craft cocktails also had a hand at B&B. Each year B&B holds a cocktail contest and includes the best drinks in future menus. I tried the Clara Lou, Bitter Little Pe'ach, and The Johnson.
Expect an elevated, spirit-forward margatina in the Clara Lou, named after a Denton-born pinup model. It is very strong, and perfect if you want a hibiscus twist of a margarita. Bonus points go to the presentation, which includes an orchid I highly recommend you later use as a hair accessory.
Ironically, the Bitter Little Pe'ach wasn't bitter at all, but more refreshing and light. Deep eddy lemon and peach vodka blend seamlessly with lemonade and mint to create a laid-back drink for hot days. This was my personal favorite, fruity and refreshing yet not too sweet.
If you're a nut for rye, you'll love The Johnson. I'm not the biggest fan, but the mix of peach with pecan drew my attention. It's not as nutty as you would expect, but still refreshing and spirit-forward.
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