On a Friday night in March 2004, I was in the mood for someplace "fun" and toddler friendly to go for dinner. After doing some research on the internet I found out that Italian Colors seemed to fit the description. There was supposed to be a branch of this Montclair restaurant at Jack London Square, and I figured that dinner and a walk might be just what the doctor ordered. I wasn't 100% sure Italian Colors was still open there - I couldn't find any recent mentions of the restaurant on the web - but I figured if that didn't work out, there were plenty of choices in that area.
My fears were, indeed, right. Italian Colors has closed down and a branch of the Irish pub Barclay's had opened in its place. The placed looked friendly (read empty) enough so we figured we'd give it a try.
The restaurant occupies a pretty large space, divided into two rooms. It has a 3-table outside-dining area (occupied, unfortunately, by smokers), a large bar by the door and a lot of exposed wood all over. In all, it has a humble, welcoming atmosphere. The lights are dim and the two TV screens by the bar are set on low volume so they don't bother the diners.
Barclay's looks like the ideal place to hang out with a group of friends and drink the night away - perhaps while discussing politics or religion. It has a pretty extensive list of draft beers as well as a dozen or so wines by the glass. I had a lager (I don't recall which one) which unfortunately was foamy and flat.
Barclay's menu consists of stereotypical pub grub (dishes such as Shepherd's pie, pot pie and sandwiches) spiced up on Friday nights with fancier stuff such as duck cassoulet. We shared a Buffalo wing appetizer. Mike had the fish & chips and I (who have been on a burger kick of late, mad cow disease be damned!) had the Barclay's Special burger, a hamburger stuffed with prosciuto and swiss cheese.
The food was just OK. The Buffalo wings came in a messy orangy pepper sauce which was a bit spicy but not particularly tasty - they weren't bad, though. Mike's fish was your average deep-fried fish - there aren't many ways to get this dish wrong he tells me. The fries were OK but not great, they seemed to be made from fresh potatoes and fried in some type of oil, they kind of reminded me of fries from In 'n' Out. I can say the same thing about my burger, it was OK. I couldn't really taste the prosciuto and it didn't seem to make much difference that the cheese was stuffed into the burger rather than served on top of it. Still, it was tasty enough. I ordered it with a side of potato salad for Mike and he was less than impressed. He is a big potato-salad lover but he didn't like this one; he just didn't find it tasty enough.
Still, I'm hesitant to conclude that our dishes were representative of what the kitchen can do - after all, it's a pub and we didn't order exactly pub fare. I wouldn't be opposed to going there again and trying the more traditional pub dishes (or that cassoulet!).
There is a Ben & Jerry's only a block away so we didn't stay for dessert. Only three were listed (a sundae, a brownie and an apple crisp for about $5). Service was fine. The waitresses cooed over Mika and brought her paper and crayons! I didn't see any high chairs around though and the bathroom doesn't have a changing table.
Barclay's Restaurant & Pub
M-Sa 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m., Su 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.