I was about to hit publish on this restaurant review of Barnyard Venice, open less than 3 weeks with a new chef, when I heard that the chef is already out. 3 weeks. Out. I debated whether to still publish this, but I thought, perhaps this would be a review in what might have gone wrong for such a big change to occur within the first month of service. My original first paragraph below seems even more relevant right about now.
They say Los Angeles diners are fickle, always wanting something new and different (yes, slightly guilty). But then there are the chefs and restaurant owners. You could say that sometimes a chef just wants something different so he'll move restaurants often, but there are often other factors at play that concern the business end - owners, rent, co-workers, etc...Barnyard Venice has had its share of changes. Earlier this year Barnyard closed rather abruptly with chef Jesse Barber leaving, going on to open Dudley Market. After a few month closure, a slight revamp of the interior and a new chef, Barnyard Venice is back.
The changes to the interior are minimal, conveying a very relaxed vibe, perfect for Venice beach goers. The chef is, or rather was, Larry Monaco from Gramercy Tavern in NY and most recently, Nordstrom Cafes. He streamlined the menu to a brief one pager with 4 small plates, 2 salads and 5 mains. It was reasonably priced with all items under $25, making it a good drop in neighborhood spot. Eater received the following quote from the restaurant on the even newer menu to come:
Menu selections will be in place soon that reflect the dining experience and the commitment to sourcing of local farmers and artisan purveyors that the Barnyard diner has come to enjoy and expect. This personnel transition is effective immediately; the Barnyard menu will transition over the coming days.
Perhaps the first sign that things weren't going well was when we were two bites into our starters when our mains arrived. The place wasn't that crowded so perhaps the chef was bored and was really in the mood to cook...now. They graciously took back the entrees and I'm hoping ate them as we received what I believed to be newly fired entrees when we finished our appetizers.
The beet salad combined raw and pickled varieties and included a nice sumac spice with large, bright slices of orange and grapefruit.
The watermelon salad displayed spicy greens on top of a house-made ricotta with an apple cider vinaigrette for punch.
Our freshly fired mains were beautifully presented. The steak was well cooked on potato puree with sautéed mushrooms, and of course everything is better with an egg on top.
A bone-in short rib sat bolt upright with a crispy, caramelized crust, sesame greens and pickled vegetables. It was a bit dry, which made me wonder if this dish was in fact the same one from about 30 minutes ago. Yes 30 minutes, as we took our sweet time with the starters since we had just received our bottle of wine that we were one glass into before our whole meal was served. We didn't want to drink the whole bottle with dessert. I should also mention that the wine list was very sparse with two bottles from each region ie., North America had one Chardonnay and one Cabernet, and "Europe" had one bottle from France and one from Italy. I understand it's a neighborhood spot, but when I asked about wine recommendations with our meat heavy entrees, the waitress' response was "red wine." I'm not sure if she left with the chef, but I will say that she couldn't have been nicer. Equally nice was a server/bus boy/runner (not entirely sure who he was, but he wasn't taking orders). He dropped the beet salad and we asked what the large white vegetable was in the middle of the plate and he said he was pretty sure it was eggplant. Um no, the correct answer was a beet, I think. I'm still waiting on the answer.
I had originally said that Barnyard Venice wouldn't have people trekking across town for a table, but it seemed like it would be a decent neighborhood spot. I thought they had some kinks to work out with service and servers, but seeing as it was one month in, hopefully that would all unfold naturally. Looks like the unfolding is happening rather quickly. This is the second review of Barnyard I've done on my blog (first here under Barber), but I'm not giving up and it appears the owners aren't either. I'm ready to make it three! Stay tuned.
1715 Pacific Avenue, Venice