Black Barn

19 E 26th St. New York, NY 10010(212) 265-5959 blackbarnrestaurant.com

black-barn

A unequivocal upgrade from SD26 (RIP), Black Barn slaps you in the face with energy the moment you enter, with its lively bar up front, adorned with sleek décor elements done in such a way that honors both the country and city, making the Osmonds proud. Especially in the main dining room in the back, where they really embrace the mix of design elements, complete with a framed out “barn” looming overhead. The only thing taking away from the vibe in a pretty big way is the tablet-style cocktail and wine list. It just cheapens the experience right as you sit down, making you feel like you’re in one of those iPad airport restaurants.

In terms of service, it was a bit spotty, proving to be noticeably lethargic on the bookends with both the cocktails and desserts taking an eternity. Then there’s the matter of our waiter forgetting all about delivering us a bread basket, probably because he was too busy delivering his table-side theatrically, obnoxious Shakespearean presentation of “The Menu.” This guy was so over the top we felt like we were being waited on by Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments.

Fortunately for Charlton the cocktails were very good. The winner of the two I tried was The Bad Seed, made with Buttered Corn American Whiskey and cayenne pepper dust. It was spicy and buttery in all the right places. Yes, it’s good to be bad. The other cocktail was the refreshing Cider House Cup, served in a copper mug, which seems to be all the rage as of late. Made with Apple Jack, fruit and lime juice. It’s a nice yin to the yang of The Bad Seed.

For starters the Beau Soleil oysters were oysters. Fresh, but nothing spectacular. Served with all the usual suspects from lemon to vinegar to cocktail sauce. The seared foie gras with green apples was also just okay, missing the broad side of a, well, barn, with a dish that should’ve easily been a layup had they just given it that hit of sweetness that is normally so germane to the dish. But weakest of all was probably the pumpkin salad, which was so unimpressionable that it might as well have never even been served to us and I doubt anyone would’ve ever noticed.

On the plus side, the mushroom toast with tallegio was good. Not what I would call it incredible, but amidst the losers it was served with, it was a beacon of hope. And speaking of hope, we finally held out long enough for that forgotten breadbasket I mentioned earlier. But once it arrived, it quickly became apparent as to why they had forgotten. Because it’s pretty forgettable. Although I will hand them the award for the most conflicted spread ever served with bread. A pat of butter topped with balsamic vinegar, sitting in a pool of olive oil, surrounded by roasted garlic cloves. Yes, all of that and yet it still failed to wow.

Sadly, the entrees didn’t fare much better. The scallops were just okay, only made mildly better by the potatoes they are served over. But compared to the amazing scallop dish at The Clocktower across the park, I wouldn’t wipe my ass with these. Not that you should ever wipe your ass with mollusks, that’s just gross, not even sure why you brought it up?

The rib eye with chimichurri was also just okay. The meat itself was nothing special at all, so it was in dire need of something to submerge it in, hence why they serve it with the chimichurri, I suppose. But even that wasn’t enough to mask the inadequacies of the dish. Nor was the cayenne popover, which was a nice touch, props for that one, but it’s obviously a borrowed concept from BLT and not quite at the same level, nor size. Still, I appreciated the effort.

And just when the barn was about to be set fire, the best entrée of the night came in to save the day, the sweet potato ravioli with bacon. Not only was it good, it was crazy good. Then, they followed that up with two killer desserts, the rum soaked bread pudding, which was my favorite, as you can imagine, and the other were the salted caramel ice cream sandwiches which were pretty dope as well, to use a horribly dated expression that I’m hoping to bring back into style. The weakest of the three desserts were the warm chocolate brownies. They’re not exactly bad per se, but when you can get a better brownie at Pret, it kinda makes it seem ridiculous to pay over 10 bucks for something inferior.

Such a shame. I had higher hopes for Black Barn. Sure, it had its spots of brilliance, but they were lost in a sea of too much darkness. Or should I say “blackness?” Yet I still stand by what I said at the beginning. It’s definitely an upgrade from the previous tenant, even if the misses outnumber the hits.

2 teeth

Cotto

Laguardia Airport Terminal C • Gate C39 • East Elmhurst, NY 11371

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Set apart from the rest of the iPad ordering lot, you will find one last hold out, closer to the end of Terminal C in LaGuardia. It’s still guilty of the same impersonal iPad-server interface, but at least the food is slightly better. And by slightly I mean the difference between The Hangover and The Hangover 2. In other words, virtually imperceptible.

The wine is served warm, for some strange reason, and so are the sweet, soft Marcona almonds, which are vastly different from regular almonds, or roasted for that matter, in case you’ve never had them. They are actually a touch chewy, more like fresh almonds, making them a novel treat that’s not all that easy to come by state-side, being that they are much more common in Europe.

The other slightly okay thing on the menu was the white pizza. A bit chewy (like the almonds- perhaps a theme is brewing?), but better than one might expect in terms of flavor. Granted those are the low expectations talking.

2 teeth

 

Anglers

Central Terminal Dr. • LaGuardia AirportTerminal C • East Elmhurst, NY 11371
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While LaGuardia has most certainly upped its game as of late, there is still some upping left to be done. For starters, with the food. Sure, airport food is typically crap, but even within this very crappy spectrum, there exists the potential to be barely crappy, or super crappy. Sometimes, dare I say, even surprisingly good. Just check out Axel’s Bonfire in Minneapolis, Uncorkd in SFO or Beaudevin in Charlotte, NC.

But back to the rule as opposed to the exception, which is squarely where you’ll find Angler’s. Set amongst 4 other restaurants in a iPad serviced food court of the future that sounds much more interesting than it is. You basically search the menu on the iPad bolted to your table, place your order, and swipe your card to pay in advance- including tip. Which is a bit fucked up, because unless you’re clairvoyant, how in the hell do you know how much you want to tip server? Especially when they aren’t even really waiting on you, the friggin’ iPad is! But for argument sake, let’s assume you went the default, 18%. And let’s also assume you got the same shitty service I got. They delivered my poor excuse for a lobster roll a woeful 10 minutes before ever bringing my lemonade. And no, they didn’t even bother to bring me water to tide me over. Which posed quite the dilemma for me, do I eat it while the bun and fries are still warm, risking a parched mouth in dire need of moisture? Or, do wait for my drink to arrive, turning an already mediocre dish into a tepid mess? I split the difference.

Now, one might say to me, Ferocious Foodie, what in the hell were you thinking ordering a lobster roll at an airport? To which I would respond, fair point, duly noted and won’t happen again.

1 tooth