Barnyard – Charlotte Street
Posted on November 10, 2014
Barnyard’s picket-fenced exterior couldn’t look more different from its parent restaurant up the road. From the outside, Dabbous is imposing. Its 10ft metal door and frosted windows are impervious, both physically and metaphorically – you won’t find many restaurants with a longer waiting list for tables. But at Ollie Dabbous’ latest venture in the middle of Charlotte Street, you wont need a tactical unit sporting explosives to breach the place in search of a meal. You simply walk up the steps and sit on the veranda or at the bar and wait for a table with the other cool kids whose collective farming experience couldn’t run a small holding.
Inside, there’s more picket fencing, corrugated iron and a mishmash collection of stools that look about as comfortable as sitting on a pitchfork. It’s a touch try-hard, but the atmosphere is good, the staff chequered and friendly and the mezzanine dining area is much more comfortable than the cattle-class downstairs.
The menu’s division by animal, not course, makes choosing a coherent meal impossible but somehow makes eating a sausage roll for dinner acceptable. It really is just a sausage roll too. Nothing fancy: no deconstruction, no elevation just sausage meat wrapped in pastry and served with the humblest condiment of all: piccalilli. But it’s done so well I would happily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its popularity was such that its lustrous pastry shone from nearly every table, brown and glossy, as neat and pretty as patisserie’s window whilst packing the meaty punch of a butcher’s block.
Sharing is difficult; squabble inducing as a matter of fact. I’m sure fraying relationships have given way over the last half inch of picnic perfection. But then again most of the dishes are too good to share (they recommend 3-4 per person). Barbecued bavette was brushed with black treacle, served lovely and rare although the sweetness didn’t translate into its eating, something I didn’t mind. It was extremely good with a mustardy mayonnaise and a homemade dill pickle.
Chicken wings seasoned with smoked paprika, garlic and lemon were large, crisp and citrusy and obviously prepared with care. Although a bit on the salty side, I could have had a bucket of them. Writing for The Guardian, Marina O’Loughlin criticised them for tasting like a salty pizza. Salty they may be, but pizza they are certainly not. Perhaps she should review her pizzaiolo because the majority of dishes coming out of Joseph Woodland’s kitchen – formerly of Launceston Place and The Square – are great and taste exactly of what they are.
Charred broccoli came with a potent vinaigrette. The large portion either needed more charring or less dressing, the acidity by the end was cheek-puckering. Corn was lathered in salted butter and sprinkled with meadowsweet, served on its cob with a bolt bored in one end, looking like it had been jump-started and bought to life in a moment of Shellian innovation. The foraged herb added to the bright flavour and wasn’t as I feared it would be – a needless and contrived addition to fit the pastoral theme.
For desert, traditional apple crumble had the addition of cloudberries. The waiter didn’t know what they were and I still don’t, but berries stewed and covered with a sweet, nutty topping taste much like any other so it wasn’t an issue. Proper clotted cream so thick it wouldn’t leave your spoon was a good accompaniment, and the pint bottle of popcorn milkshake turned out to be excessive but surprisingly good (these come ‘hard’ with a shot of alcohol if you fancy).
I enjoyed the lot, even more so when the bill came. A meal for two with a couple of drinks and some chips came to £60. Service charge wasn’t included, a clever ploy to tip generously in cash, something the staff in all fairness deserved. I was half expecting them to fall into line and perform the Tush Push but there mustn’t have been enough space.