David: I remember when this space used to be a super dingy breakfast spot for venice locals and beachgoers who only had a few bucks to spend. Not great memories of that place, the food was barely edible. But that has all changed. Walking up to Barnyard felt like Abbott Kinney spilled over toward the boardwalk a little too far. (makes sense since it’s an ex tasting kitchen chef.) We didn’t have a reservation so we took three seats at the bar. Our friend Dabito joined. We were hosted by Randall, the man behind the bar. He’s awesome. Sit at the bar and make friends with him.
We started the meal off with bread but we had to order it off the menu. For $3 it’s totally worth it. Four stacked slices of rockenwagner bread served with butter, apple butter, and a mustard side. It’s a must. I know it’s bread and it should be free, but splurge. and get an order of fries as well. The fries themselves are good, nothing fancy. But the harissa and crème fraiche is hands down a better condiment than ketchup. The first serving of sauce was gobbled up so fast I had to asked for seconds which they gladly brought.
My other favorite dish was the roasted half chicked with dandelion greens and pickled melon. I honestly never order chicken at a restaurant unless it’s fried but I would get this over and over again. The white and dark meat was equally perfect and there wasn’t a single piece of melon left on the plate. Randall even brought over a sampling of a new dish they were trying out in the kitchen. Abalone ceviche. It’s not on the menu so I won’t talk about it more than to say it was delicious.
There were two desserts on the menu. We got the chocolate mousse. A delicate slice of chocolate with a salt crystal patina. It was pretty perfect.
The place was packed, my beer was belgian, the service was stellar, there was no wait at the bar, and the food is top-notch. I just wish it was walking distance from my house… i’d be here three times a week.
Jen: We really liked this place—so much so that we were there two weekends in a row. We sat atthe bar both times we were here, and thoroughly enjoyed our prime view of the kitchen. It was thrilling dinner theater: the head chef gruffly yelling out the tickets and hollering for runners, then ever so delicately and tenderly finishing off the presentation for a plate of ribs or pasta.
True to their namesake, Barnyard does their proteins well—the chicken (and I’m not a huge fan of chicken—I have a really long story for why, which I won’t go into now, but basically it involves my aunt’s two cats subsisting on a diet of freakishly giant, hormonally injected Costco chicken breasts which caused the felines to double to a monstrous size in a matter of weeks), pork ribs and rabbit were all superb. The rabbit was the special when we were there, and it came with the tiniest little ribs—our dining companion Dabito called them bunny riblets. My favorite was the braised lamb tenderloin wrapped in pork belly, presented in medallions. The meat was tender, juicy and fatty—just how I like it.
I do like a bite of meat here and there, but my mainstay is vegetables, and The Barnyard had a beet salad that stood out amongst the crowded field (it seems like every restaurant has some version of this dish). The golden and red beets were served heartily, simply cut in big, chunky fourths. They were accented by fresh arugula and a perfectly soft-boiled egg with a runny bright yellow yolk that was so pretty to look at.
We almost demurred on dessert after seeing several uninspired dishes wielding a small, flat, brown slice of what I assumed was some sort of chocolate pudding or mousse flying out of the kitchen. The manager, Randall, assured us that the chocolate mousse was worth trying, and since he so far had not steered us wrong on any of his other recommendations in terms of beer and wine, appetizers and mains, we went with it. Looks were definitely deceiving for this dessert, as the chocolate mousse with crème anglaise turned out to be dense, rich and choc full of flavor. It was definitely potent, hence the small serving size. The food was delicious and satisfying and the ambience was inviting, so we’ll definitely be back to try more of their frequently rotating specials as well as their regular menu items.