Conveniently located on Chapel West just five minutes away from most of Yale’s residential colleges and graduate schools, Barracuda Bistro & Bar is already quite popular amongst students for their delicious local oysters ($1.50 a piece), their small plates, and their seemingly endless Happy Hours offerings (evenings, late nights, and early afternoons basically every single day of the week)! This review focuses instead on spreading the word about their lesser known weekend brunch offerings, which feature live music, mimosas, and a scrumptious spread of food items.
We visited Barracuda on a beautiful Sunday morning to sample this brunch, and were greeted by the incredible aroma of good food and the sound of instrumentalists performing by the window tables. We were warmly welcomed by staff the moment we walked in, and unlike our experiences at the more clichè brunch spots frequented by crowds of Yalies every weekend to swap stories of their LEO late night adventures, we were able to get a table immediately and dive right in to perusing the menu.
Sonia Salazar, head chef and co-owner of the restaurant, joined us and was forthcoming with recommendations and the origin story of her restaurant. As we sipped our delicious passion fruit and mango mimosas (selected from the range of tropically flavoured mimosas available), both of which maintain a perfectly equilibrium between sweetness and acidity, Sonia told us about the staff, her Colombian background, her culinary experiences in the United States prior to starting this restaurant, shared Barracuda’s mission and ideals with us, and explained how they’ve come to evolve over the years.
As we struggled to choose what to order from their scrumptious brunch menu, which manages to offer a healthy variety of options from classic staples to more novel in-house innovations without being overwhelming to a casual diner, the head chef provided her inputs to us. Sonia then headed in to the kitchen, from where she sent us five of her favorite brunch dishes, all of which were incredibly unique and delicious. There was a relatively quick turnover from the order being placed to the food arriving on our table, which was a pleasant surprise for our impatiently famished weekend morning selves. The wait staff was friendly and attentive throughout the meal, checking in with us at regular intervals to ensure we were enjoying our experience to the fullest.
We started off with the Lobster Egg Benedict, which true to its name comprises lobster cake topped with two poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce, served with yucca home fries or salad. It’s usually safe to assume that any reputable restaurant serving brunch will offer a dependably good eggs benedict — familiar & consistent — but Barracuda truly transcends the competition with its employment of lobster in lieu of bacon or ham. There was a generous helping of lobster, which was soft and fresh. The Hollandaise sauce, meanwhile, was flavorful yet subtle, ensuring that it didn’t overshadow the lobster. While served as a side to this main dish, the yucca fries were among our many highlights from our visit: these velvety fries were incredibly tasty and crunchy without being greasy, nicely complementing the softness of the lobster and the delicately cooked poached eggs.
Next up was another one of Barracuda’s excitingly innovative creations, Sonia’s Colombian take on American comfort food: the Latin Hangover, which consists of three tacos accompanied by scrambled eggs, chorizo, jalapeno, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro, served with guacamole. We can certainly imagine this hearty and ever-so-filling dish being the perfect cure to a hangover on a weekend morning. Overflowing with carefully selected ingredients from chorizo to jalapeno to roasted to cilantro, these tacos were fulfilling not only to the eye but also to our taste buds.
We moved on to another of Sonia’s native specialties: Colombian Breakfast (scrambled eggs with scallions and tomatoes served with arepa, chorizo and avocado). The dish beautifully combines famous Colombian arepas with scrambled eggs and Spanish chorizo, and is accompanied by fresh slices of avocado.
Next up was the Chicharron Breakfast, the most unique one out of all the five in our opinion.As we hadn’t been exposed to authentic Colombian cuisine prior to this visit, this dish was unlike anything we had ever had before. Over easy eggs served over red beans along with arepas and crispy pork belly, this dish was the perfect combination of different flavors in one plate without feeling overwhelming. The subtle sweetness of the red beans complemented the crispy yet melt in the mouth pork belly, as well as the perfectly crunchy arepas. This dish grew on us with every spoonful of it we had.
We finished off with the Stuffed French Toast, one of the staff’s favorite items on the menu and the very essence of a weekend brunch for anyone with the faintest inkling of a sweet tooth. Stuffed with a house made dulce de leche and caramelized bananas, and topped off with cinnamon whipped cream, the french toast was a delight from start to finish. After rather quickly wolfing down this masterpiece, we were left in awe how Sonia managed to take a classic dish like French Toast and turn it into an unforgettable and unique dessert with her own unique twists. The house made ingredients and the meticulous execution of this dish made it sweet without being saccharine, soft without being soggy, and filling without being overwhelming — as manifest by the fact that two of us finished the entire plate despite just having eaten everything else on the table.
Overall, we were deeply satisfied with our experience and can’t wait to revisit for another brunch as soon as the pressures of midterm season relent. Every item we sampled was a whole hearty meal in its own right, and with the price for each item ranging in the student-friendly $12-$16, we highly recommend planning a visit as soon as possible. Take advantage of having your parents around for Family Weekend and spend a beautiful Sunday morning over a delicious brunch at Barracuda Bistro & Bar!