My dinner at The Food Barn has restored my faith in food. It’s been a while since I’ve beenÂ genuinely excited about a meal and I’ve missed the feeling. The Food Barn has undergone a revamp, with the deli being moved to another part of the Noordhoek Farm Village and the restaurant now fills the entire space. With the revamp comes a new menu. The Food Barn was very casual before, I remember having a toasted chicken sandwich the last time I was there (which was definitely the best toasted chicken sandwich I have ever had). Now, while it still has a casual feel, it is certainly taking itself more seriously.
They offer a ‘bistro’ menu where Franck Dangeroux gets to flex his creative culinaryÂ muscle. For R200, you can select 3 courses from the bistro menu and this is accompanied by a carafe of wine. Quite a few people went for this option and it is irrefutably good value. While the bistro menu did have some appealing options, I found myself drawn to a particular starter and main which were not on the bistro menu. In fact, closer inspection revealed that the bistro menu options are really just fancier versions of the a la carte options. I ended up choosing the calamari starter (R80) and the linefish main (R110).Â Adding myÂ half of the bottle of 2006 Groot Constantia MerlotÂ (R105), took my meal to R240 and I had to watch my fellow diners savour their desserts while IÂ fiddled with unclaimed cutlery and tried to appear uninterested.
But, I did not regret my choice for one second. Deep fried curried baby calamari in crispy phyllo cup on an avo tower, finished with swirls of aioli, olive oil and squid ink sauce. That was my starter, it was as tasty as it sounds. The calamari was tender and light, the phyllo was thin and fun and the combination of aioli, olive oil and squid ink was so delicious that I used the complementary bread (which they bake themselves) to scoop up every last drop. If I had ordered from the bistro menu I would have had the Thin brie, candied onions and cranberry tart, served with goats cheese & vanilla panna cotta, tender baby mesclun leaves and finished with a pomegranate dressing. It sounds interesting but the diner to my right was not particularly impressed with his. R80 for that calamari starter was well worth it.
Grilled line fish served on a courgette ribbon salad with fresh lime and basil, finished with a lemongrass and galangal froth would have been my bistro option for main, not knowing what galangal froth could be was not the only reason I went for the a la carte option, check this out: Grilled line fish served on a spring onion mash, with a langoustine and Semillon bisque, finished with chives. It was awesome. The fish was prepared to perfection and the mash and langoustine bisque was sublime.
It was really a superb meal. The service was very good, attentive but not in your face. The wine list was a good size, offering several options per cultivar and at reasonable prices. There were several options below R100 and very few above R200.
I didn’t have dessert, if I had, I would have chosen the Scented Catalonian crÃ¨me brulee (R41). In fact, I regret not ordering that. The bistro subscriber to my right ended his selection with the Sliced Chocolate and almond biscuit Yule log, served with toffee & vanilla sauce, finished with homemade ice cream and wasn’t particularly excited about it. Not that I was interested.
If The Food Barn wasn’t way past the Lentil Curtain, I would definitely be eating there again soon. Nevertheless, I will be back as soon as an opportunity presents itself.