The Barrel House: How Jonesborough does barbecue

Mystery Diner • May 28, 2019 at 7:45 AM

It all started with my dining partner saying that she wanted to dine at the new barbecue restaurant in downtown Jonesborough.

When I told her I knew of no such restaurant, my dining partner told me to get ready for a surprise. The Wedding Loft, a fixture in Jonesborough since 2012, has branched out. The portion of the business that faces Main Street has been turned into a restaurant called the Barrel House.

Yes, weddings are still being held on the Wedding Loft’s second floor, back porch and yard. Downstairs is seating for 40 or so patrons on the main floor, with restroom access to the right at the back.

The Barrel House décor is “Old-Timey Small Town,” as in lots of tin-sign advertising and newspaper articles featuring local events. Tables and chairs are sturdy and functional, with all having a nice view of Jonesborough’s downtown scene. Our server, Jamie, was very friendly and helpful with the new Barrel House menu, which has quite a variety of temptations to choose from:

• Barrel Burger. What makes Jonesborough’s Barrel House different from your typical barbecue joint is that they smoke their meats using for-real and repurposed whiskey barrels, giving a very pleasant effect to the flavor imparted by the smoke.

A Barrel House specialty is their Barrel Burger ($10.95). This creation can be a bit daunting to you as it was to my dining partner, laden as it is with a 100% beef burger with cheese (smoked Gouda in my partner’s case) then a good stack of sliced Barrel House fork-tender smoked beef brisket, followed by an equal number of center cut bacon slices, then mayonnaise, lettuce & tomato.

My dining partner’s side order was Barrel House’s version of macaroni & cheese that uses smoked Gouda. Our server suggested that we try the Barrel House barbecue sauce in place of the usual ketchup. I tried a spoonful, and found the sauce to be somewhat sweeter than I usually enjoy, having more of a brown sugar note than that of molasses.

The looked-for heat factor was nicely provided by some freshly ground black pepper that left a noticeable but still pleasant residual heat signature at the back of the throat. The Barrel Burger is best consumed (deconstructed, really) a level at a time: bacon and fixing’s first, setting aside the slices of brisket for later.

Next is the cheeseburger portion with the associated produce elements, lettuce, tomato, etc. You might want to start including a bite of the Gouda-laden mac & cheese at this point. Lastly is the beef brisket, and no extra sauce is needed here; you’ll want to savor each smoky bite to the fullest.

• Potato Soup. I decided to give the Barrel House kitchen a real workout, with a do-it-myself three-course meal consisting of soup, followed by an abbreviated main course of entrée and sides, and finishing with dessert.

For starters I had a cup of their thick, delicious potato soup ($2.99), which was mostly potatoes slow-simmered with chunks of onion, white cheddar cheese and bits of smoky bacon. Very good, especially with a handful of crackers for additional texture and crunch.

• Southern Barbecue Sundae. I knew what my Barrel House entrée course was going to be: their Southern Barbecue Sundae ($9.99). The Barrel House version of this southern classic takes baked beans, then pulled pork shoulder meat that has been properly smoked and finishes with creamy-smooth and tangy coleslaw, stacking all three in a Mason jar and served with a red, ripe tomato garnish and a spoon.

Though you can eat it layer by layer starting with the coleslaw, I recommend sticking the spoon down into your sundae and giving it a good stirring to mix all the layers together. Make sure the Barrel House barbecue sauce is near at hand. A very nice entrée indeed.

• And for dessert. What’s the best way to finish off a Barrel House Burger, or a Southern Barbecue Sundae? How about sharing a nice piece of home-made bourbon bacon pecan pie ($3.95)? Be sure to have it a la mode with a scoop of Barrel House hand-dipped vanilla ice cream on top ($2 extra) and two forks, please.

Bourbon bacon pecan pie uses fresh pecan halves as topping for a deliciously bourbon-flavored sweet chess pie filling poured into a home-style pie crust and dotted with crumbles of smoky bacon. The slice of pie Jamie brought us was somewhere between a quarter and a third of the whole pie, with melted vanilla ice cream running in rivulets down the sides and puddling up on the plate. You couldn’t ask for a better third course than this.

Conclusions. Barrel House has some unique and delicious takes on just what constitutes typical barbecue joint fare is nowadays. From the mellow smoky overtones provided by their whiskey barrel smoke process to adding bourbon and bacon to an already outstanding pecan pie recipe, they have definitely sparked my interest in what else is on the menu.

There’s an Arnold Palmer Chicken platter priced at $11.99 that my dining partner is wanting to try, while I am intrigued by their smoked brisket with mac & cheese wrap ($10.95).

My dining partner had the last words on Jonesborough’s Barrel House:

“We must come back.”

The Jonesborough Barrel House

119 E. Main Street



Tue.-Wed. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Thu.–Sat. 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

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