For once, I’ve actually made it to a new restaurant within the first month of it being open! Ollie Dabbous, the acclaimed restaurateur behind exclusive haunt Dabbous, has opened Barnyard, an affordable farmhouse style eatery on Charlotte Street in London’s Fitzrovia.
To quote TimeOut “Harvester this is not”. In fact, my friend and I were laughing about the review having visited Harvester for the first time a couple of weekends ago in Nottingham. Perhaps I’ve become a food snob going to all these wonderful places, but Harvester was honestly one of the worst meals I’ve ever had. Yeah, there’s a free salad bar but the service was bad, our food took ages to arrive, we had to ask for more tap water because the first jug “tasted funny” and the cheese in my chicken burger wasn’t even melted (that says it all!).
For me, going out to eat is all about the dining experience. That, matched with awesome food is unrivalled. From the moment you walk through the door at Barnyard you enter an experience. The waiters and waitresses, dressed in checkered shirts, address you by your first name taken at the door – asking you how your day was and walking you through the drinks menu at the bar. I waited at the bar for my dining partner to arrive, she was only 15 minutes behind me which meant we were sat at our table by 6.45pm (it was a Wednesday night), and with a no booking policy we were lucky to get a table so easily.
Barnyard’s interior resembles that of it’s name with corrugated iron walls, a white pitched fence lining the staircase, rusty light fittings hanging from the ceilings and wooden benches with high stools for seating.
Barnyard’s list of beverages is unique in that it offers a wide selection of milkshakes (with or without bourbon) and shandies. I kicked things off with a Country House Shandy (£6.50) which is made up of Elderflower, Lemon, Ginger Ale, Bourbon and Goose Island IPA. Served in a traditional dimple half pint glass, it has a fruity and spicy flavour from the elderflower, lemon and ginger ale which is ‘thickened’ with the bourbon and IPA. My dining parter went for the Barnyard Shandy, served with homemade lemonade, gin and Abro lager (£6.50).
Whilst catching up on all the chat, my dining partner and I slowly browsed the menu. Each dish is listed in it’s relevant category, Pig, Cow, Chicken, Egg, Vegetables and Sides or Pudding. Prices are very reasonable, ranging from around £3.50 to £14 and the idea is to pick a selection and share amongst the table. As usual, we asked the waitress which dishes she recommended. Taking her advice on board as well as what took our fancy here’s what we ordered…
I enjoy writing blog posts that take you through the journey of a meal and it’s always exciting to build-up a story to the ultimate dish or course. However on this occasion, the first dish of the evening was the best. A chunk of Barbecued Grain-Fed Short Rib beef, served with homemade dill pickle, mustard and black treacle sauce. At £14, it was the most expensive item on the menu but my gosh was it worth it. The meat was pink, fatty and tender. It literally melted in the mouth. If you go to Barnyard – you must order this.
Next up was the Roast Suckling Pig (£12) served with celeriac and caraway (a sort-of posh coleslaw). The slice of pork was thin and covered in a thick layer of crackling. It was pretty hard to cut through with a knife and fork, let alone chew! But consumed in small bites it was thoroughly enjoyable, a fantastic texture – beautifully cooked.
Moving onto the sides, we chose a portion of fries (£3.50) – always a good extra incase the small dishes don’t fill you up! As well as a plate of Cauliflower Cheese (£3.50). The fries were fries – skinny, crispy, potatoey, you know the sort. The Cauliflower Cheese on the other hand was divine. Baked in a deliciously creamy sauce, the cauliflower was chunky and hidden under the crisped top layer of the dish. It was great for dipping the chips into!
The most disappointing plate of the evening was the Homemade Sausage Roll (£6), which I had high expectations for! It looked posh, with a glazed pastry topping and a small ramekin of bright yellow piccalilli. It just didn’t really do anything for me, the sausage meat sort of fell apart as you cut it, and I felt it lacked moisture and flavour.
The final savoury dish of the day was a portion (4 pieces for £5) of Crispy Chicken Wings with smoked paprika, garlic & lemon. I thought £5 was pretty good value, especially considering how amazing it tasted. Lemon was the overriding flavour and it complimented the crispy chicken skin beautifully. Absolutely delicious.
At this point, we were pretty satisfied with our meal but my dining partner and I just couldn’t resist ordering a Hard Milkshake each. She went for Popcorn and I went for Malt, freshly made with a shot of Bourbon and presented in a Barnyard branded glass milk bottle. I can’t lie, I didn’t really know what Malt tasted like before I tried it but I wanted to try something different. It was tasty, like a cold, alcoholic Horlicks. I preferred the popcorn shake, although it was quite a strong popcorn flavour it went well with the warm bourbon.
To finish things off we shared an Apple and Cloudberry Crumbled with Clotted Cream (£4.50) which came in a shallow dish. I also didn’t know (until now) that cloudberry is a type of rhizomatous herb native to alpine and arctic tundra and boreal forests. It’s an amber-coloured edible fruit similar to a raspberry or blackberry. Ripe cloudberries are golden-yellow, soft and juicy, and are rich in vitamin C. According to Wikipedia, when eaten fresh, cloudberries have a distinctive tart taste and when over-ripe, they have a creamy texture somewhat like yogurt and a sweetened flavour. Interesting!
I wouldn’t describe it as a particularly unusual dish, despite my lengthly description of a cloudberry!! It was delightful, the brown crumble was perfectly homemade and the apple and cloudberry remained sweet, and the clotted cream was an added naughty treat!
Overall I absolutely loved the dining experience at Barnyard. I’d go back just for the short rib, chicken wings and cauliflower cheese!! I loved the blue rimmed white dinner plates the food was served on, the traditional pint glasses and branded milk bottles. Even the toilets were rustic (check out the metal basin sink below!). It was a real straw-chewing, farm yard, Yee-Haa experience! The staff were friendly and informative and the room was full of happy, buzzing customers.
ADDRESS: 18 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY
CONTACT: 020 7580 3842
OPENING TIMES: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am Monday to Saturday and 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Sundays