Two Hot PVD Bars, Reviewed
The East End and Bayberry Beer Hall couldn't be more different.
Bayberry Beer Hall
Bayberry Beer Hall is a West Side extrovert, insistent that revelry is loud, public and pours out of a tap. Technically the restaurant is indoors: There are walls, windows and a roof. But draped in string lights, wallpapered in philodendron and filled with community tables, the mood is backyard house party. With room for 100 or more, the capacity appears endless. Neighbors sit on wicker swings, gather around the bar and cozy up to newly made besties who bond over what’s on draft tonight. Conversation of any kind is delivered in game-day decibels, part of the reason that orders are placed at the register: Servers would never hear you, nor could they negotiate the crowd — some seated, others wandering — with any degree of success. And come on, do you really need someone to bring you a burger when you’re standing around the grill?
Despite the raucous persona though, Bayberry is a well-executed study in urban planning. Pick an area that’s barely populated in the evenings and you’ve got plenty of parking. Limit reservations to large parties and you widen the peak hours. Forgo pretension and you’ll get the full array of West Side personalities. Patrons hover just under forty years old but that’s about the only clear classification. Brown med students in scrubs meander in behind a line of flannel-wearers with beards; young parents cradle babies in one arm and IPAs in the other; first dates have the comfort of knowing kind strangers will save them from awkward small talk.
The menu manages all of them with relative ease. Some dishes are hand-held, a particularly good trait if you’re eating without a table. Chewy pretzels, smashed fingerling potatoes, schnitzel sandwiches ($10) and a damn good burger ($13) free up arms and the attention necessary for a more complicated meal. But even the more complex dishes aren’t too much to handle. Grilled pork belly with cornmeal waffles, queso fresco and tomatillo salsa ($24) is big enough to share. Indeed, sharing is the key to dining at Bayberry and it extends past the plate. The communal tables nurture conversations between strangers, the line forming at the register breaks into debate over pilsner or lager, a handful of servers wander the large space in an effort to gather plates left by groups passing through. The individual and the occasional couple are eclipsed by a crowd that works in unison to bring beer to its proper, elevated position. Want to drink alone? Go to a bar. Looking for someone to toast the evening? They’re already in the hall.
381 West Fountain St., Providence, 383-9487, bayberrybeerhall.com
Wheelchair accessible as long as you can negotiate the crowd. Street parking.
Vibe Oktoberfest meets mid-century modern.