Really, I expected a lot more from Bar Q. We were there to celebrate CC's birthday, and though I had read mixed reviews of the place before, I assumed the expertise of celebrated chef Anita Lo would make things interesting.
I didn't take photos of the appetizers we ordered (as you can tell, the lighting was shite in there), but we split three: the unagi and scallion fritters, the grilled "tuna ribs," and the roasted pork belly with kimchee, takuan, and steamed buns. The fritters were good as fried food always is, but the other two were just okay, and at those prices ($12, $15, and $13 respectively) for small portions, I would have been happier if each bite had been a bit more sublime.
Like the appetizers, my grilled loin of Australian lamb was fine but ultimately not anything special. I tried other people's dishes, too, and they all seemed to be tasty enough but not amazing, and they were often paired with pedestrian or oddly executed sides. The only standout on my plate was the garlic fried milk that accompanied the lamb (recipe here), which was creamy and salty, crisply fried, and strong with the flavor of that spicy, pungent clove.
The desserts—a chocolate peanut butter tartelette with pandanus ice cream, and warm sesame mochi with dipping sauce, were decent but unmemorable. There's a theme here, for sure.
Finally, I don't usually mention service as for me the food is the thing, but it was definitely odd that night. As far as I knew BarQ had been open for three or four months already, but it felt as if they hadn't quite gotten things together. The place was near-empty, and the air conditioning was blasting so hard everyone spent the meal shivering. The busboys dripped sauce and food onto the shirts of my friends—not once but twice—while clearing the dishes and failing to stack and balance them properly. Each time, though both CC and JL pointed this out when it happened, it seemed as if the busboys either didn't understand or didn't care because they simply left without expression. We didn't make a big deal about it, but it was definitely suprising in a place where the main courses were priced in the mid-to-upper twenties range.
In short, little reason to return, even with garlic fried milk on the menu.