Barru Westcliff Review

March 29, 2016 by Rich - Foodie Reviewer

Barru Westcliff

So, I’m at it again, tearing up the rulebook and chucking it outta the window without a care in the world. Jeez I’m one hell of a crazy mo fo! But hey, life’s too short, lets live a little, what’s the worst that could happen? So what utter madness have I been up to this week I hear you cry? You may remember, I have one golden rule when visiting a new restaurant; don’t go the first week it opens, its simple. Why? You’ve got to let them time to settle down, bed in and sort out any teething problems. It’s just not fair to rush on in there and write a review the moment they open their doors. You’ll probably remember a few weeks ago a reviewed the new Istanbul Restaurant in Westcliff, and I did just that; I reviewed it in their opening week. I was impressed though, it was bloody good! So, when I heard there was an even newer kid on the ‘up and coming’ Westcliff block, I got over excited again and headed on down!

The Hamlet Court road area is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. New and interesting restaurants, cafés, bars and shops are opening up. Back in the day, Hamlet Court Road was described as the Bond Street of Southend. Who knows, the good old days could be making a comeback? Barru opened its doors just a couple of weeks ago. You may recall Paparazzi? An Italian restaurant that seemed to do pretty well, but for whatever reason, shut up shop a few months ago. Keeping a close eye on the empty restaurant I was keen to see what would evolve; not another charity shop PLEASE! Thankfully, the new owners moved in, totally redecorated the joint, and gave us Barru! I got all too excited as only a foodie could; we’ve got a new restaurant!

Quite simply Barru is smart. Shiny glitzy bar, classy restaurant and a laid back lounge on the mezzanine floor; first impressions were good. Lou and I pulled up a bar stool, and ordered a drink. London Pride for yours truly and a cocktail for Lou. Yep, Barru have an enthusiastic, friendly, young resident mixologist, who knocked up pretty good Espresso Martini. Lou gave it her seal of approval. To earn this accolade is no small achievement; Lou is the self-crowned Queen of Espresso Martinis, so good job ‘bar keep’! Now lets get down to business; food.

Straight away I was happy. I love grazing. There’s nothing better. Picture the scene. You’re out for an evening with friends, you meander from bar to bar, having a drink, and eating little and often. It’s a wonderful and social way of eating. They’ve got this down to a tee in cities such as Barcelona; I’d guess you’d expect that though, if the tapas are crap in Spain we’ve got no hope! Even in Australia you can get involved with a foodie pastime known as the ‘Melbourne Graze’! Yep, exactly what I like, wandering and eating for a whole evening or afternoon. They even have organised food tours! Fantastic! I’ve said it for years though; we all need to get more involved in this marvellous way of eating. Well, Barru could be the answer. It’s all about small plates here!

How do Beef sliders, hot and spicy chicken wings, tempura fish and chips or coconut tiger prawns with chilli slaw, sound? I could have ordered any of those small plate delights. But after much deliberation and debate, Lou and I settled on 6 dishes. Sitting comfortably? let me begin! We had BBQ glazed pork belly, this was wonderfully tender with a sticky glaze, and more importantly made from my favourite thing; pig! Next up, liver and bacon with pancetta mash. Forget overcooked dry liver, this couldn’t have been farther from that! Tender liver, bacon and creamy mash with pancetta; pretty damn good! Moving on, toad in the hole with sage and onion mash. A perfect taster of an old skool classic. Chorizo croquettes were next in line, and I just love chorizo! Delicious golden croquettes, accompanied with a pineapple relish, jolly good it was too! One of the highlights were the Thai fishcakes. Clearly homemade, these little spicy gems were a real treat. But the petit plate winner had to be the beef bourguignon. Tender ‘eat with a spoon’ beef in a rich sumptuous sauce. Quite simply my friends; it was lovely. We could’ve demolished a huge bowl of this alone! We’d certainly stuffed away quite a few of the small plates on offer at Barru, and I enjoyed them all, maybe some more than others, but no complaints from this satisfied diner. It certainly was a tough call to crown the beef a worthy winner.

We weren’t finished just yet! We’d half a bottle of red wine left. What’s a perfect match with red wine, other than their splendid rich beef bourguignon? Cheese of course, and Barru serve up some fantastic looking fromage! So, we just had to order a board to share. A picturesque selection of ripe Brie, cheddar and some stinky blue cheese arrived. This was perfect to nibble on whilst sipping the last of the vino. How about something sweet? Not for us, we’d eaten far too much. But we could have dived in to sweet treats such as panna cotta, lemon curd tart, chocolate brownie, or how about pecan pie, sound good eh? One other thing I was impressed with; Rossi’s Ice cream! Good to see Barru are keeping it local on the gelato front! How much did we pay for all that grub? We got a pretty good deal on that front. That particular night was ‘three for the price of two’ on the small plates! So including our drinks, less than £70 all in; not too bad at all. If you were wondering, the majority of these unusual, inventive tapas dishes are between £5 and £6 with puddings at a fiver.

What can I say; it certainly appears we are in the midst of a Westcliff revolution. As I said earlier, new bars, restaurants and quirky shops seem to be popping up all over the place, and that can only be a good thing! To be honest, Barru have been brave, they’ve thrown caution to the wind and opened up a very smart classy establishment, in an area that has nothing else quite like it. What if it doesn’t work? I’m pretty damn certain it will, its what Hamlet Court Road has been crying out for. I’m definitely heading back for a few cocktails and some more nibbles soon. Oh and I nearly forgot to say, they do Sunday lunch too, need to get me involved with some of that!

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