Can you book? Yes
Price paid per person: £39
As is the way with most restaurants these days, Barnyard is all about sharing. With sharing comes lots of small dishes, meaning the likelihood of ordering a bad one is increased.
I went with four friends and between us we had the following, split into good and not so good:
Malt and bourbon shake – a splendid malt milkshake with a dash of bourbon for wildness’ sake.
Green olives – the really big green ones.
Warm cornbread – served in a paper bag to enhance the rustic barn theme, it was indeed warm, crumbly, a rich golden-yellow in colour, and you could clearly see real bits of corn.
Roast beef and watercress salad – a winner! Served cold which was refreshing in contrast to the hot meat dishes, medium/rare tender beef with a fiery horseradish kick.
Barbecued bavette – another winner! Accompanied by a superb mustard and black treacle sauce, the beef was sealed perfectly; dark and crispy on the outside, pink and vulnerable on the inside.
Chicken wings – not your average chicken wings as they were coated quite heavily in lemon. For me they became good once you got over the initial shock, but they were a fairly contentious dish. Having said that there were none left at the end…
Grilled chicken in brioche – the tarragon mayonnaise transformed this from a very simple homemade sandwich into a dish worth paying for. Still quite simple but very enjoyable.
Charred broccoli vinaigrette – unanimously the best dish of all, and only £3.50. Cooked just beyond al dente, with crispy charred tips and subtly oozing with vinaigrette.
Cauliflower cheese – extremely simple but extremely delicious.
Popcorn ice cream with smoked fudge sauce – it’s questionable whether there was any pop corn in the ice cream (I think it was just vanilla) but it was certainly adorned with pop corn in the bowl. The smoked fudge sauce was heavenly, and not something I’ve ever seen before.
Lemon posset with marjoram – the two desserts had completely different personalities. The posset was the light, elegant, fit for a ballerina dessert that would never swear or make a politically incorrect joke, whilst the popcorn ice cream was indulgence in a bowl, better at 3am after a night on the town, liable to speak in profanities and not feel restricted by political correctness.
Not so good:
Roast suckling pig with caraway and celeriac – I didn’t try this but I was told it was boring and dry.
Mince and dumplings – terrible! This was a bowl of watery mince, lacking in any flavour whatsoever, that had an equally boring dumpling dumped in the middle. The mince must have known how poor it was since it lacked the confidence to stick with the dumpling when served onto a plate, instead it limply scurried off to the corners, where it belonged.
Girolles on toast with a duck egg – a stale piece of toast with some mushrooms and a fried egg on top. Pretty boring and lacking in life.
With the exception of our first waiter, the service was odd. There was a very sarcastic comment hurrying us as we tried to make space for the next dish on the table, and the spoon I was harmlessly fiddling with after dessert was confiscated from me because I was “clutching it strangely.” Best way to lose tips? Calling the customers strange. We paid £39 each. Just cut out the ‘not so good list’ and you could bring that down a bit, and hope for nicer service than we had.