September 24, 2014
The Malted Barley in Westerly
We visited the South County restaurant where the pretzel is king
By Joshua Aromin
The soft pretzel. I can’t say I’ve eaten many in my lifetime. Aside from Auntie Anne’s at the mall, I also can’t say I’ve really had much of an opportunity. Then came along the Malted Barley in Westerly. The High Street hotspot specializes in serving them, and by specialize, I don’t mean “has a pretzel section amongst cheeseburgers, chicken fingers and potato skins.” Really everything on the menu is a pretzel except for the soup du jour and root beer float dessert.
The restaurant, which opened in 2011, serves the doughy food alongside an extensive list of craft beers, forming a killer tag team worthy of the around-fifty-minute drive it took to get there from the Providence area. The pretzels here are many things, but casual food court snack isn’t one of them. Rather, depending on what you choose, they may be layered with cheese or spices and served with a dipping sauce, stuffed with chipotle peppers and smoked gouda, or served cradling a bratwurst, sauerkraut and spicy mustard.
I admittedly have a sweet tooth but will almost always choose something garlicky and cheesy over something sweet. I love savory and this place is a savory lover’s dream. After what felt like a half hour of deliberation (I’m only exaggerating a little bit), I went with the garlic and parsley pretzel, and the asiago and parmesan pretzel. Once they came out, all association of malls and the soft baked twisted dough were dismissed…forever. In addition to pretzels, there is also a great selection of beer. And luckily for me, they offer beer flights, making my choice of brews much easier than that of the pretzels.
Both were soft and flavorful, but the crusted cheese of the asiago and parmesan pretzel stole the show. I think cheese on its own is pretty great, but baked until crisp on a pretzel (with excess falling off the sides) is a whole different ballgame. Future trips to the Barley are without a doubt in my future and I should try something else, but it’d be hard not to pick that again.
The bottom of the menu is forthright in saying it’ll take about thirty to forty minutes for pretzels to come out since they’re made to order. Rome wasn’t built in a day and these bad boys aren’t made in a couple minutes.
The Malted Barley, 42 High St., Westerly, 401-315-2184, themaltedbarley.com