Before the beast left London in a painful transatlantic migration (we’ll discuss that in the forthcoming Tale #75), a friend was whinging to me that she was getting bored of the restaurants in London. Things weren’t tasting ‘special’ anymore. Perturbed by the notion that this could even remotely be true, I suggested dining at Barnyard, the latest venture from famed Ollie Dabbous of you guessed it, Dabbous.
A far cry from it’s much sought after ‘modern European’ sister restaurant, Barnyard takes a very laid-back, casual approach of serving good ‘farm’ fare in a bit of a funky environment. All the waitstaff wear plaid flannel button down shirts (and are very jovial I might add), there are wood chairs and tables and there’s a wooden fence in the restaurant itself for goodness sake.
The amusing part about Barnyard (besides what I just mentioned above) is that the menu seems to be many things to many different people. I’ll explain. I looked at the menu and saw pure English delights: homemade sausage rolls, lamb with mint sauce, ice cream with popcorn a la Heston Blumenthal and shandies on the drinks menu. My dinner companion saw a bonafide American eatery: warm cornbread, thick and luscious alcoholic milkshakes, corn on the cob and fries. Our dear waiter / barman piped in at some point in the evening to say he initially thought the menu was Australian when he first got the job. Right-o. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Barnyard can be classified as a ‘farm food’ establishment.
The chef, Joe Woodland, a bit of unknown entity to the beast but is certainly on the radar now, has organised the menu by ingredient (‘pig’; ‘cow’; ‘lamb’; ‘chicken & egg’). I recently wrote about the interesting nature of menu breakdown on my last beast post on Gymkhana — definitely a way to be different and break from the standard ‘starter-main-pudding’ routine.
Firstly, I will have to say the quality of the cuts of meat at this restaurant are exquisite. The second thing I will have to say is that the malt milkshake with bourbon is to die for. It certainly beats my original favored alcoholic milkshake from S.O.S Smith of Smithfields. Seriously, it is divine. If you’re more of a shandy person, try the ‘dandy shandy’ with almond, cinnamon, orange, lemon, mandarin liqueur and Wyld Wood cider.
The sausage roll (£6) is gorgeous, its immaculate pastry burnished into a glossy sheen. The tart, vinegary taste of the piccalilli complements the roll perfectly. I would advise to split this with other people; it is actually quite large and not ‘small plate’ like at all so to save yourself from feeling overstuffed I’d recommend sharing (which you know the beast normally doesn’t advocate).
Experiencing a massive dilemma about dessert due to over-ordering and over-stuffing, our flannel shirted waiter was kind enough to bring out a small portion of the much lauded popcorn ice cream with smoked fudge sauce in a little shot glass, on the house, when he sensed a general panic about not being able to try this dessert. Needless to say this dish is dessert heaven.
Now would be a good time to mention that Barnyard also does something that’s very rare for London — the restaurant will text you when your table is ready, allowing you to leave the queue and get a pint at any of the pubs or bars on Charlotte Street whilst you wait for your table. Awesome.
I’m not 100% sure what Barnyard is all about but it’s certainly different, in a good way — a one of kind restaurant serving some very non-boring, delicious and affordable food — a breath of fresh air in Fitzrovia.
18 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY
Tel: 020 7580 3842