Bartender Kenta Usuzawa, who has pushed beverage of various sorts as bartender, sommelier, and/or bar manager at Tapino, Petite Maison, and Tottie's Asian Fusion (both locations), took the entrepreneurial plunge last week, quietly opening his own restaurant -- Barrelhouse American Kitchen & Cocktails -- at the northwest corner of Warner and Alma School in Chandler.
He labels his new baby a "chef-driven, neighborhood scratch kitchen" to convey that it's a casual restaurant with an emphasis on upscale, made-from-scratch, New American food. The chef doing the driving? Larry Shore, whom Usuzawa describes as "on the same page" about making Barrelhouse a go-to for comfort and camaraderie. Here's what you can expect to eat and drink.
Shore (whose résumé includes L'Auberge de Sedona and House of Tricks) and Usuzawa (a family man himself) have created a menu they hope will appeal to foodies and families alike, which are not mutually exclusive terms. You'll find slow-roasted hard cider pot roast, Moroccan lemon chicken, dry-rub grilled sea bass, scallops with asparagus and artichoke barley pilaf, burgers, chorizo sliders, and white truffle mac and cheese.
Usuzawa says Barrelhouse also features a farm-to-table salad each week, and a farm-to-table soup each day. The kitchen also is making homestyle cheddar biscuits with honey butter as well as buying ice cream from Sweet Republic and produce from Duncan Farms and Sunizona. Meanwhile, prices will stay moderate, $9 to $13 for most items, with a few entrees hovering around or slightly over $20.
Naturally, given Usuzawa's background, there's no lack of alcoholic beverages, including 12 wines by the glass (six red, six white), some from Arizona wineries; 18 beers on tap (most craft, some local), and signature cocktails made with fresh juices.
Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed Sunday.