Café Barron’s

A cheese platter at Café Barron’s features import and domestic cheese, sun-dried cherry chutney, fresh fruit and crostinis. Friday March 6, 2015 (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

As one of Longview’s longest-operating restaurants, Cafe Barron’s knows how to provide a dining experience that is without fault.

What started as a book store in 1972 is now a boutique shop with gifts, jewelry, clothing and more. The restaurant, which opened in the late 1990s, was reinvented several years with a relocation within the store and beautiful new design and decorations.

As part of the ambiance, Cafe Barron’s has stunning artwork that adds to the look and feel of the restaurant. To me, one’s dining experience is enhanced by the setting. Not many local restaurants in East Texas go out of their way to decorate their restaurants to create a nice ambiance. Very few, if any, compare to Barron’s quality and standards when it comes to atmosphere.

In recent months, Cafe Barron’s hired a new general manager and finalized a new menu. I give credit to the Barron family for always trying to better their restaurant and not just staying with the same menu. (Jim and Julia Barron started the business. Their son and daughter in law, Brandon and Lacy, have started taking a more active role in the business.)

The new general manager, Kamma Colvin, is wonderful. She has worked at Barron’s for years. She kept all the things that distinguish Barron’s, while incorporating other things to improve on the quality and service.

At our dinner, I wanted to make a point to try some of the new items on the menu. We started with some appetizers — Calamari, Crawfish, Spinach & Artichoke dip and a wonderful variety of cheese and fruits.

The cheese plate is perfect for a party of two or four. I had never had many of the cheeses before, so the server took time to explain everything on the plate. It was all delicious and the presentation of fresh cheese and fruit were perfect. Nothing was lacking.

There were four of us ordering from the menu, so we ordered a lot of different entrees, from a Sea Salt & Butter Braised Sea Bass to a Dijon Honey Glazed Salmon and a Bison Burger.

All were presented very nicely and were cooked to perfection. I know that is high praise from a restaurant critic, and I always try to find something wrong, but I could not at Barron’s this evening.

If you have read my other reviews, you know that I judge a Sushi restaurant by its eel sauce and other restaurants by their Crème Brulee, if the restaurant has it — and Barrons does.

I love Crème Brulee and I have had some wonderful Crème Brulee over the years. Barron’s Crème Brulee is one of the best I have ever had. It was perfect with just the right amount of fresh fruit on top.

I also love cheesecake. I say that because Barron’s has a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake that is so good you will not want to share it — but since they served it to be shared, I acquiesced and shared it.

I do want to mention Barron’s wine list. It is one of the best in East Texas. There are great wines at all prices. If you want to spend under $50 for a bottle of wine they have some great choices, and if you want to spend more than $100 for a bottle of wine they also have some great choices. And the general manager will always take the time to talk with you about the wine list and give you great suggestions to pair with your meal.

And I must talk about the servers in a restaurant because they help make the dinner experience either wonderful or terrible. The servers at Barron’s always make you feel welcomed. They are knowledgeable and make sure your dining experience accompanies the great food and atmosphere at Barron’s.

Barrons also has a wonderful bar area. It is very classy, has a great variety of drinks, and has its own great following of East Texans.

Again, I know I have not said anything bad about Barron’s or criticized anything, but that is because there was nothing to criticize. Even their bathrooms were spotless and nicely decorated.

My rating for the overall dining experience at Barrons is an A++, the highest I can award a restaurant.