I had no idea what Mulligatawny was before Seinfeld. But sometime after that inappropriately named Soup Nazi episode aired, I had my first taste and was smitten. And what’s not to like? With its understated spice and cashmere-soft creaminess, Mulligatawny is one of my top 10 cold-weather culinary must-haves.

So a happy girl was me when I recently sat down to lunch at the Barrel House on First Street, and the server said the soups are all homemade. Including the Mulligatawny. Um, sold.

I hadn’t been to Barrel House in quite some time, but I was curious after Shop Talk reporter Mai Hoang talked about its revamped menu in a recent column on yakimaherald.com. So my friend Karri and I gave it another try.

The new menu is simplified, includes breakfast and is even less expensive than before. In fact, the average entrée price went from between $15 to $30 to between $5 to $15. That’s a change you don’t see very often.

The interior of the Barrel House is clean and fairly simple with a terrific bar and built-in character due to the age of the historic building it occupies. The ceilings are amazing. I do wish the tables had tablecloths — I think that one touch would add immensely to the ambiance. Alas, we were there for the food.

Breakfast includes homemade cinnamon rolls and brioche French toast, and dinner specials sound equally tasty, like bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with apple chipotle chutney and curry rice, or blackened chicken with stuffed jalapenos and penne pasta.

The lunch menu revolves around the restaurant’s Barrel House melts. These are made on homemade bread, grilled with a choice of toppings and cheese. And this is where the fun — and indecision — begins.

The menu has suggestions, of course, like its winemaker melt, made with a burger patty, gorgonzola and red wine relish, or a Southwest bacon melt, made with chipotle bacon, pepper jack, grilled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and chipotle ranch.

But no, we had to go our own way. It took many, many minutes to decide. I think we sent away our gracious server with an apologetic shrug at least twice.

After much deliberation, I had a riff on the winemakers melt, substituting chicken for the burger patty ($7.75). Karri chose chicken, chipotle bacon, gorgonzola, lettuce, beer-braised onions and tomato ($8.50). And we both had the soup (at $2.50 a cup, how can you pass that up? Answer: you can’t).

We loved our melts — mine was rich with the gorgonzola yet tart with the addition of the relish. And there was a lot of “mmm-ing” coming from Karri’s side of the table, too. Melts come with your choice of fruit, coleslaw or fries. We chose fries and were pleasantly surprised that these are actually soft potato “disks.”

But the star of the show for us was the Mulligutawny. With chicken, apples and rice — and that sweet-spicy depth of curry — the soup could have been our entire meal. Karri said she could swim in it. I think that’s going a little too far, but hey, I appreciate hyperbole in the name of delicious.

Barrel House opens Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m. and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Closing hours vary, but are between 8-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and between 9-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Barrel House

22 N. First St., Yakima

509-453-3769

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