When I told my colleagues I was going to Barnyard for dinner, they laughed and scrunched up their noses. One of them even put on a Farmer Giles accent. They clearly had never heard if it. But when I explained this was Ollie Dabbous’ new(ish) restaurant – A.K.A famous owner and chef of Dabbous – they suddenly I had a bit more respect for my dinner choice. Especially when I told them the prices were no where near those of Dabbous.
Yes the name makes you think of a farm. Of hay bales. And of chicken. No, it doesn’t make you think of trendy, bustling Charlotte Street (which has become one of my favourite London streets) just North of Oxford Street, where this fine little restaurant is located. That makes it all the more cool; to have effectively made the inside of a terraced Charlotte street house into a corrugated iron barn, complete with wooden planks as tables and tin jugs with wheat bouquets.
I spotted Barnyard from afar – a scuffed white picket fence surrounding the entrance and their small terrace. Huge wide open windows, revealing a very busy restaurant. I was convinced, since it was Monday, that the no-booking policy wouldn’t affect us. I was wrong. There was a waiting list for the next table. Luckily my friend Halael had got there before me and bagged us two seats at the bar where, since the bar men/waiters were so charming, we decided to have dinner too.
The menu is divided into your different farm animals – Pig, Cow, Lamb & Chicken (and Egg, but that’s boring). With your classic American sides: Cornbread, Corn on the cob, Fries, Cauliflower cheese. The idea, our friendly waiter Harvey explained, was to order about 3 dishes each. Seemed like a lot to us, so we ordered 5 between us.
We were recommended (and thus dutifully ordered) the following:
Chicken wings. Our number one favourite. Loved the smoked paprika, lemon & garlic paste, which set it apart from your usual greasy chicken wings. That said, it’s hardly fat free!
Roast Beef on toast wth horseradish buttermilk. The beef cooked rare but not bloody, the warm horseradish buttermilk giving that extra wow factor. Loved the presentation, and the original way horseradish was used.
Sausage roll. Perhaps my least favourite. We were told it was good, but also warned it was pretty much just a sausage roll (a big one!). Nothing compared to the rest but at £6 not going to break the bank.
Cauliflower Cheese. I never usually order this and found it creamy and delicious without being too much. Real comfort food but full of flavour.
Corn on the Cob. Which they kindly cut in half for us and gave us each a mug (see photo). Sautéed in salted butter and meadowsweet and then whacked on the grill. The meadowsweet made it taste almost caramel-like and resulted in bringing the classic corn on the cob to a whole new level.
Drinks-wise, I’m on a detox for a few days. Halael had the house white, which was good, apparently. I opted for a simply fizzy elderflower drink, as I fancied something fresh and light. But next time I will try one of their Shandies, the best drinks on the menu according to Harvey. And I do like how they come in milk bottles.
Despite seriously persuasion from the boys to go for the Popcorn Ice cream, we decided against it. But then – thanks to Matt the manager – they gave us a taster. And a shot of toffee sauce too. Might actually have been the best ‘taster’ of the night. The toffee had a smokes taste (because of the smoked butter used) which gave it a savoury touch. Simply delicious and a fantastic end to a delightful evening of excellent service & a surprising, flavoursome version of your classic fast-food menu.
When I get richer I intend to go to Dabbous, where an 8-course tasting menu is £59. Because if Ollie Dabbous can give fast food a hint of sophistication, I wonder what he can do to fine dining.
18 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia,
London W1T 2LY