Most barns that I've been in, haven't given me strong food cravings to just grab a chair and enjoy a good meal between animal stalls. Eating fresh food that comes from these animals and their pastures would definitely be more enjoyable, but perhaps the name Farmland was already taken.
Barnyard Venice opened in February with chef Jesse Barber who was most recently at Tasting Kitchen, but also spent time at Keller classics French Laundry and Bouchon. Jesse is all about farm fresh as is just about everyone else these days, but he adds a Mediterranean, Japanese twist that brings in some new, interesting flavors.
The dining room feels a bit like a barn with its exposed wood beams and wood planked tables. We sat against the back wall which had a shared banquet running across the room, and evidently meant, we'd be in for further sharing. That worked out well since many of the small plates looked great, but we had to make some difficult choices when ordering.
The wild mushrooms and leeks were as dainty and beautiful as the dish it was served on. The flavors were subtle, but the sauce was so good that we had to put an order in for bread after receiving it, which turned out to be grilled bread served with mustard, mayonnaise and preserves. It was as if they wanted us to create a sandwich. No sandwich necessary as you could eat the warm, crisp bread on its own.
I had to do some persuading to get my dining companion to agree to the octopus, but she was a huge fan after it arrived in yet another sleek, well decorated dish with tender, braised octopus and fresh chick peas. In fact this is when the neighbor sharing began. The table to our right had octopus envy and we had honey glazed rib desire with their starter order. A fair trade was made and everyone was happy.
We continued with a fresh white fish special that was fine, but a bit boring compared to the rest, especially my stuffed quail, which was also on the specials menu that night.
The quail was halved with perfectly balanced figs, celery and almonds scattered within. Really delicious with nice punctuated notes from the figs and celery.
We enjoyed our wine for dessert, which was an easy drinking red from France for just $32, Vin de Pays de l'Herault les Heretiques. Our waitress was super helpful, letting us try a few different wines before deciding on which bottle we wanted.
After the friendly service and plate sharing and chatting with our neighbors, I now know of one barnyard I'd be happy to have a meal in.