Barnyard is Fitzrovia’s cool kid on the block.
It’s decked out in corrugated iron and Americana for a laid back, inviting atmosphere. Here they serve posh twists on British classics with a menu broken down by animal, egg, veg & pudding. The fact I just said posh twists made me cringe a little. What I mean to say, is a focus on quality ingredients and skilled execution for simple dishes that have long littered the English culinary repertoire.
By the way, did I mention this is the creation of Dabbous boys, Michelin starred Ollie & cocktail master Oskar?
But take off your Dabbous goggles, they’re like beer goggles impairing expectation for Michelin starred dining. Forget all the reviews you’ve read and ignore any hype you’ve heard, grab a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with and head to Fitzrovia for a good time with some good food.
Accompanied by the lovely Jaia, whom I found battling the end of a long day with fingers clasped around a coffee cup, we headed for the Barn…yard. Half expecting a line out the door or an hour long wait due to their no reservation policy, we were relieved to be greeted by friendly, welcoming lumberjack ushering us to our table. Seriously, everyone in here is a rugged, plaid shirted charmer seating guests, shaking cocktails and serving dishes. A sweet, smoky smell of charcoal hangs in the air, enticing us past the bar, up to the small mezzanine. Our server, another charming, lumberjack figure, although albeit more hipster than mountain man, sweetly talked us through the menu and left us to debate the different sections.
We decided what to share, placed our orders and dove into conversation. The atmosphere is buzzing and there’s a feel good ambiance, lent in part by the lively groups sat in the booths behind us. It may have been due to our flowing conversation, but our food arrived in what seemed like mere minutes. However, we weren’t complaining and got stuck in.
There was visible fat, which initially posed some concern as I’m not a fan of chewing through this texture. But, fear not, the meat melted away in tender bliss with a deep flavour of charcoal perfectly accompanied by the tang of a buttermilk sauce. The pickle I generously donated to Jaia.
I hate pickles. I know, I know. But, it’s my one thing. *shivers*
Next up, a meaty looker of a sausage roll. This is definitely an English thing. They love their sausage rolls with all the adoring fondness of an American grasping the beautiful buns of a juicy burger. The dirty classic had been reworked into a thing of refinement with excellent quality meat snuggled inside flaky pastry. The accompanying piccalilli was deliciously sweet and sour, despite the lurking green offenders.
Our side of charred broccoli with vinaigrette was a delightful mystery. Although my dinner date wasn’t won over, the crunchy texture paired with the smoky charcoal flavouring and sour sauce was a pleasant surprise. It’s pretty genius to pleasantly surprise with broccoli, if you ask me. Or maybe I’m just easily amused.
Corn on the screw was cute presentation wise, with simple flavour and a glistening pool of melted butter.
Ready for more, but surprisingly full, we ordered the popcorn ice cream with smoked fudge sauce.
This was gourmet soft serve, laced with vanilla bean and an added crunch from the caramel popcorn. The smoked fudge sauce which I elegantly drizzled over the top, I dumped the entire thing on Jaia’s instruction, was rich and fudgey with a nice, smoky aftertaste. A sweet ending to a good meal.
Barnyard goes out of its way to be uncomplicated with its rustic touches and simple dishes. This is such a far cry from the pretty plates of challenging flavour combinations and skilful execution around the corner at Dabbous. But, strip away the implied reputation hanging like a cloud from the impressive track holder, and enjoy this simple, good food that you’ll struggle to find fault with. Because even if you do take issue with a dish, like my dining companion did with the broccoli, you easily forgive because it isn’t trying to be judged. It isn’t trying to impress you. It’s giving you some tasty food in a comforting atmosphere with friendly staff who happen to all be attractive lumberjacks in plaid shirts.
And so I will return to Barnyard, to happily crusade through the rest of the menu. In looser fitting jeans, I may add as this isn’t doing any favours to your bikini body. What’s that?
If you do skip to the barn, tell me what you taste. Send me some foodporn via Twitter @Alessandra_LDN