Food Life + Arts

Barron’s offers memorable experience, student-friendly prices

By 11:30 a.m., a line of students had formed at the entrance to Barron’s Restaurant.

Hungry and excited, one group was led by their waitress to a table near the window, chattering among themselves as they sat. Old friends who had once worked in the restaurant themselves, they confessed they’d been waiting for this all week.

Barron’s opened for the fall semester on Sept. 23, marking the beginning of a unique and valuable experience for the new batch of students enrolled in HRMA 2220 (Food & Beverage Operations II) and HRMA 4323 (Advanced Food & Beverage Management) within the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Students enrolled in HRMA 2220, a mandatory course for all Hilton students, learn to fulfill the role of host, server, line cook and dishwasher, rotating through the positions each week in order to gain a well-rounded service experience. This allows them to master skills necessary to fill an entry-level position at most restaurants.

The restaurant’s managers are students enrolled in HRMA 4323. This acts as their capstone course, a culmination of everything they have learned before graduating and pursuing a career in the restaurant industry.

Bauer graduate student Jackie Lin completed her undergraduate studies at the Hilton. She said while her emphasis was not in restaurants, she still picked up valuable skills while working at Barron’s.

“My kitchen skills are a lot better,” Lin said. “Before this class, I didn’t really cook at home. So I did get to learn how to cook some of the stuff we had. I got really good at the Alfredo.”

She said that most students benefit greatly from mastering basic service skills in a more relaxed environment than they would find outside the college.

“They’re more OK with making mistakes and learning from that, because we’ll laugh it off,” Lin said.

It’s easy to see why Lin and her friends were excited to return to Barron’s that afternoon. The restaurant offers a new, diverse menu and student-friendly prices, with entrees that range between $6.50 and $7.50.

The Barron’s menu is a treat for any hungry student seeking food outside the dining halls. Starters such as the sweet and crunchy Firecracker Shrimp and the Potato Croquettes, which are whipped, breaded and fried to dip in a poblano Alfredo sauce and fill one’s mouth with creamy potato goodness, are excellent choices to begin one’s meal. Barron’s Own Chicken-Fried Carrot Sticks may seem like a strange concept, but it works surprisingly well, especially when dipped in creamy jalepeno ranch.

“It’s a break from the typical UC fast food that I can get anywhere else in Houston.”

Shining Wang, hotel and restaurant management senior

Students have many options to choose from among entrees, which include everything from burgers and sandwiches to salads and pasta. Whatever one is craving, Barron’s probably covers it.

A personal recommendation is the Steak and Portobello Flatbread. Topped with beef tenderloin, onions, portobello mushrooms, cheese and a poblano cream sauce, this flatbread is light and incredibly tasty.

“It’s a break from the typical UC fast food that I can get anywhere else in Houston,” said hotel and restaurant management senior Shining Wang. “But I can only get Barron’s Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich at Barron’s, or their amazing Cheesy Bites.”

Kristi Baker, faculty advisor for Barron’s, said starting this week, the restaurant will also be opening for dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Because of the amount of students needing to take HRM 2220, the college opened ten additional sections to allow more students into the course.

“The students enrolled in these other sections will be responsible for producing and serving dinner.  The menu will be different from the lunch menu and will change either weekly or twice a month,” Baker said.

“The idea is for it to be an International Dinner Series offering a pre-fixed menu each week, with all of the dishes being inspired by a particular country. One week your appetizer, entree and dessert choices may all be Italian in nature, and the next week you will be choosing from Korean dishes.”

She said that this is a new concept to Barron’s, which has not served dinner for several years.

“I look forward to seeing how it goes and actually getting to taste some of the food from time to time,” Baker said.

Baker made a point to stop by the table and briefly chat with the group of friends who had returned for lunch at Barron’s that day.

“They are really a joy to teach and get to know,” Baker said. “I form really strong bonds with so many of my students and love that they come back in for lunch, even after they are finished with the course.”

The friends finished up their lunch, getting leftovers to go. An hour spent with the group showed the strong ties that Hilton students form with their college, even after graduation. Working at Barron’s remains a memorable experience for all. Lin agreed.

“We come back specifically for Barron’s.”

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