Review: Char Bar, okay for a student’s palate but not their wallet

As soon as you walk into toward the door at Char Bar in Westport, you can smell the smoked meat and the wood that was used to cook it.

The inside, too, of this barbecue smokehouse that touts itself as “The House of Meat” is filled with delicious aromas and inviting decor.

One of the things I most liked about Char Bar was the space. It was filled with beams and it seemed to mimic the architecture of an old-school factory. The restaurant is divided into three main sections: two inside for seating and an outdoor beer garden that’s decked out with picnic tables and plenty of yard games.

The wait service at Char Bar was excellent, too. Staff were very friendly and attentive to my needs.

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For my meal, I ordered the “pig-tail” mac n’ cheese dish with burnt ends on top ($11). The mac and cheese was good, its al dente spirals stinted with cheese and not quite gooey enough for my taste. The barbecue sauces on the table were amazing. The flavors were tangy, sweet and hot.

As for my drink, the strawberry-lime cream soda was well worth the money ($4). It went down smoothly and was neither too sweet nor too sour.

For guests with dietary restrictions, the barbecue restaurant offers vegan and gluten-free options.

However, there were some things I didn’t like about Char Bar.

The meat from the burnt ends was good, but a little bit too chewy for my taste. Also, the cost of many of the dishes, although good for a party of six people, was not as friendly to a college student’s budget. The lack of deals or specials was one thing that struck me as missing from Char Bar.

Also, many of the dishes are small enough to feed one person, though not enough to stretch into a second meal to take home with you for some weekend rations.

Still, Char Bar would be a good place to hold any parties with friends. The space is quite large and open. Plus, they accommodate party reservations, so I would suggest the restaurant for graduation festivities.

If you’re looking for a new dinner spot on a college student budget, Char Bar may not be worth the money, unless you want to spend it on barbecue that is simply “okay” and mac and cheese that isn’t quite cheesy enough.

Maybe, next time, I will try their weekend brunch — the “Sunday Fried Chicken” may be worth a second visit.

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