When Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen in Barre opens for dinner this Friday, the staff won’t yet be taking reservations, says co-owner Keith Paxman. But that hasn’t stopped potential diners from trying to make them. Those folks will just have to line up for a table at the hotly anticipated restaurant, which began soft openings last Friday.
There are plenty of reasons why the restaurant is already attracting notice. Barre mayor Thom Lauzon owns the building at 47 North Main Street, and Paxman and his business partner, Rich McSheffrey, are appropriately civic minded in describing their vision. “Our ultimate goal is to be the ‘Cornerstone’ of our community, and to help rebuild this city ‘One Pint at a Time,’” they declare on the restaurant’s website.
There will be plenty of pints to pour. The 28-tap list includes Pabst Blue Ribbon and Bud Light, but is focused on hard-to-find and local brews, including Maple Nipple Ale and Jade IPA from Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Kingdom Brewing’s Out-of-Bounds IPA.
Chef Jesse LeClair, who recently cooked at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, says his goal is to introduce a seasonal gastropub concept to Barre. “We wanted it to be approachable but also affordable,” Paxman adds. “We picked our price points so that the entire menu is under $20 with only very, very few [dishes] that are over.”
Both those pricier options are on the steak menu: an 8-ounce filet mignon and a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye. Elsewhere on the menu, LeClair gets to show off his Atlanta-honed creative side with dishes such as duck-leg confit with maple baked beans, smokehouse bacon and kale; and a barbecue-braised pork shank with bacon-jalapeño macaroni and cheese and collard greens.
Appetizers include a short-rib poutine; blackened swordfish tacos with broccoli-avocado slaw; and “pork and beans” featuring braised pork belly.
Any pub worth its salt needs a good burger menu, and LeClair offers both Wagyu and Angus beef options. A turkey burger features Vermont cheddar and cranberry chutney, and vegetarians will be able to bite into what is surely the Granite City’s first edamame burger.
Desserts served in Mason jars, prepared by culinary-arts students at the Barre Technical Center, include pumpkin trifle and a seasonal fruit crumble. Sounds like a sweet start to a revived Barre.