Based on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia, Barnyard is the new all-American restaurant from Ollie Dabbous – he’s the guy behind Michelin starred Dabbous, famed for having a year and a half waiting list for a table – which wasn’t worth the wait if you ask me!
Getting a table at Barnyard however was a little easier; they don’t take bookings and at 6:30, the four of us were told it’d be an hour long wait (which actually turned out to be an hour and forty minute wait) but we could at least wander off for a drink and return once they phoned.
It was a small restaurant with a really lively atmosphere; the loud music and cramped tables didn’t make for the most relaxing of evenings but it didn’t really matter. It had the whole Chicken Shop/Dirty Burger look going on; corrugated iron walls and uncompromising wooden stools to perch on.
We ordered a whole load of food which all arrived at the same time, which seemed a little silly, as everything barely fit on the table; it was however INCREDIBLY good. The crispy chicken wings (£4) were moist, juicy and ruddy lovely. Not quite as sweet as those at Patty&Bun, or as fiery as at MeatLiquor, but delicious never-the-less. The fries (£3) were crisp and salty, making them totally moreish. The homemade sausage roll with piccalilli (£5) was encased in beautifully buttery pastry and the lip-smacking piccalilli was brilliant.
The bubble and squeak with black pudding, apple chutney and fried egg (£8) was a heart warming plate of food with great flavour combinations. A dish we were less enamoured with however, was the broken eggs with mushrooms, parsley and garlic (£6). It was basically a bowl of eggy, mushroom soup which was seriously strong and pungent.
The roast beef on toast with watercress salad (£9) was really good; the beef was sliced thinly (possibly too thin?) but was cooked perfectly rare. The mini milk bottle filled with warm horseradish buttermilk was unusual to say the least, but a great addition. A side of cauliflower cheese (£3) was quite simply to die for, and the same could be said for the moist corn bread (£3), which was served in the trademark Dabbous date-printed brown paper bag.
A heart attack inducing highlight for me was the lard on toast (£3). I appreciate it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, as it literally was a thick layer of lard smothered over some crunchy toast, but my God was it delicious. The flavour was a rich, meaty delight.
Other highlights included the barbecued grain-fed short rib (£12) which was spectacularly enjoyable. The meat held its texture yet was seriously tender with a lovely smokey flavour. The roast suckling pig with celeriac and caraway (£11) was one of the nicest bits of pork I’ve ever eaten; every part of the fat had crisped up meaning it was in no way sickly.
Desserts were just as good; the apple and cloudberry crumble (eh?) with clotted cream (£4) was served in a shallow bowl meaning there was more crumble than apple, which is exactly how I like it. And clotted cream? Who doesn’t like clotted cream?! Lemon posset with marjoram (£4) was creamy and generously sour with an underlying and subtle flavour of the marjoram – which tasted like thyme to me. The warm acorn flour waffle with chocolate and malt (£4) was a little on the small side but masterfully made, and the rich hot chocolate sauce topped it off perfectly.
The only pud that didn’t quite work, was the popcorn ice cream with smoked fudge sauce (£4). Served in a sundae glass, the ice cream was just vanilla flavoured, with popcorn sprinkled on top, and the fudge sauce had a worryingly familiar taste of an ash tray. Bit weird for us!
I must say, on the whole, the food we ate at Barnyard was incredible, it’s just a shame that the service didn’t quite match it. There was no help or advice with the menu and there was very little interaction – they just brought the food over and that was it. For such a fun restaurant I was kinda hoping for some fun and friendly service to go with it. And for such a small space we found it impossible to get anyone’s attention. But don’t let that put you off, Barnyard is cheap, delicious and bloody brilliant. Just don’t go if you’re on a diet.