Plonking the little fellow’s car seat down on the long bench at Barrington’s Black Pear felt like some sort of triumph as new parents. We made it all the way from Newport – how incredibly impressive. The rest of the folks may have noticed the little one, but they seemed unimpressed by our victory, especially the ones with their own children squirming through brunch. Faced with the excellent food, warm conversation and some great local provisions to bring home, we were happy to have made the trip.
The Black Pear is a definite Barrington scene, far better appointed than your average deli. There was a thrum of relaxed conversation in the bright airy room owing to tall ceilings, full windows in front and subway tile all along one wall. With the deli case showcasing baked treats from croissants to brownies, as well as a selection of prepared meals, the nice extra element to this place is what’s in the back. The Black Pear has one of the more comprehensive selections of local food I’ve seen outside of a farmer’s market. Nearby Hope and Main’s various producers are represented well, with jams, pickles, sauces and more on display. There’s also fresh produce like honey, spinach and root vegetables, as well as a fridge with local meat and cheese. New Harvest is here for your coffee needs and there’s a selection of Seven Stars bread as well, rare this far south. With this varied a selection, you can have lunch and do a little pantry restocking all at once.
The various options for both breakfast and lunch are written on giant chalkboards behind the counter. There’s nothing too wacky in their sandwich or salad selection, with burgers, BLTs, tuna melts and even PB&J. Given that we’ve been waking up lately at an ungodly hour, we were in the mood for lunch, but their breakfast offerings were similarly textbook: omelettes, eggs benedict, salmon and schmear on a bagel. Coffee ($2.10) is compulsory and solid. I appreciate that you get an actual mug if you want one. My latte ($3.80) was smooth, with good foam and a humble little rosette.
We split a mini grilled cheese with tomato bisque ($10) and a grilled chicken sandwich ($11). It was immediately obvious that the food is carefully prepared here, but it also didn’t take very long to come out, even though it was busy. Seems you’d be fine sneaking in for a work lunch, if you were in a bit of a rush. The grilled chicken sandwich was generous in size and in filling, with nice pieces of juicy, perfectly cooked chicken tenders, sliced tomato, thick-cut bacon, crisp arugula and aioli. Good stuff inside, in the right ratios, makes a perfect sandwich. While the sauce was good, they weren’t clumsy about it. No soggy bread here: it was fresh, browned and toasty. Drawn from the deli case, the sides are interesting and varied. We had chickpeas with cucumber – very simple, bright and fresh. A sandwich isn’t complete without a pickle, so I added one ($1) from Fox Point Pickles.
The grilled cheese and soup sated a desire that’s been gnawing at me for some time. I was happy to gnaw back. The dipping combo was fun in childhood and it’s just as fun now – perhaps more with the gooey gruyère poking inviting holes through the airy pain de mie (fancy talk for white sandwich bread). The soup itself was uncommonly good for the time of year, with a velvety texture without lots of cream. A little arugula on the top slowly wilted as the soup was eaten. That didn’t take too long.
We gobbled greedily, then took some time with our chocolate donut ($2). This was nicely glazed and spot on with my latte. The food went quickly, but we ended up chatting with a couple at the next table for an hour. It seems good conversation always follows good food. If we were happy to make the trek, those closer to Barrington should be happier still to have this on their doorstep. We took home a raisin walnut bread ($6.50) from Seven Stars, some Fox Point Pickles ($7.50) and an invaluable sense that just because our little foodie only has eyes for mother’s milk, that doesn’t mean we can’t eat well.
312 County Road, Barrington