Address: 18 Charlotte St, W1T 2LY (MAP)
Transport: Tube: Goodge Street (Northern Line). Buses.
Website: www.barnyard-london.com. Follow them on Twitter.
The food. The trick of the small plates wrongly called tapas (I am from Spain, I know what a tapa is) is spreading all over London like a bad disease. It’s always the same story. Looking at the menu they all look like affordable, interesting restaurants, but the reality is that when you need at least 3 or 4 of those dishes per person to have a decent meal, I don’t really know if I’m in front of a new culinary trend or just a simple deception. In some cases, when the food has something different and exciting to offer, it is a gorgeous experience. But the problem with a restaurant like Barnyard is that, although the food is good, it doesn’t blow me away to justify the size of the portions… and some prices too. Because apart from the corn bread, they were all ridiculously small and, in some cases, like the short rib and the roast pig, even laughable. No, those dishes are not like a good perfume that needs to be taken in small doses, it’s not creative or amazingly modern, it was just good comfort food and, as it happens with comfort food, it needs to be made with a completely different purpose. Even if I don’t have any complain about the flavours and the quality of the ingredients, we all finished our dinner feeling as if we tried a lot of stuff but nothing in particular. For me, it is the wrong concept for a restaurant that had a lot of potential. But as this trend is getting very popular in the city right now, I assume not everybody will agree with me. NOTE: Sorry about the quality of the images, you can find better ones on their website.
The place. It is (surprise!) inspired in a barnyard, but the restaurant screams “Made in Brooklyn”. Wood all over the place and a modernised rustic decoration makes it a really lovely space. Yeah, it can be a bit cheesy, but the restaurant is cleverly decorated and every detail has been chosen with special care. On the other side, it is very dark at night and that’s a pity, because it would be very interesting to appreciate the space with a better lighting. Barnyard is quite small and I’ve heard it’s so popular that there’s always a long wait, but we went on a Tuesday night and were lucky enough to have a table at the moment.
The service. That’s the difficult part, because everybody was very nice, but our waiter in particular was trying so hard to look cool that he was giving the opposite impression, showing an ego and arrogance that wasn’t exactly making him being very approachable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he is a nice chap and it’s unfair to judge a whole service for just one person, but we had a couple of awkward conversations and I just didn’t like the way he talked to us. But to be perfectly fair, they had an issue with our dessert, that took longer to go to the table, and they invited us to it. For that reason, I think our experience would have improved a lot with a different person serving our table.
The value. The problem with the small dishes is that you end up paying more money but eating less food than if you were having a proper plate. Most of the vegetarian options are fairly priced in my opinion (around £4-6), but it’s in the minuscule pieces of meat where it becomes an expensive restaurant. Just to put an example, the pork was £11 and the short rib £12, and you know that for a couple of pounds more you can have a nice piece of meat in a lot of good restaurants. It is a place I really want to love. The drinks were nice, the food was lovely and the place is quite charming too. But in the end, Barnyard is just an average place hidden under a layer of sophistication, the perfect place for the cool kids of London: too much style, but lacking in substance. And it could be much more than that. Would I come back? Sorry, but the philosophy of the restaurant would need to change a lot to make me go there again.