There's no doubt the past few months have been an incredibly difficult time for all involved in hospitality, but with restaurants finally permitted to open up indoors from May 17th, we can only hope the worst has now passed and a little bit of dining normality can now return.
The first weekend since lockdown eased seemed like an ideal time to venture out with the family for a quality dining experience, but where to go? Although I'd enjoyed more than one outstanding meal at Moor Hall in the past, I'd never previously made it across to casual sister restaurant The Barn at Moor Hall. But having notched up a host of awards in its own right (including an impressive three AA rosettes), I decided the time had come to break that duck, and I duly rocked up on the Saturday with my wife and two young children for lunch.
As I remembered from previous visits, there's still an ample car park and the grounds are still lovely. The welcome on arrival was warm enough (although there was a little bit of difficulty finding our reservation for some reason) and all the necessary COVID-safe precautions were in place as expected. We were promptly shown up to our table in the spacious dining room; it's a nice light and airy space dominated by a substantial bar.
On offer at lunch is a full carte menu (which we ate from), a set lunch menu and also a three course children's menu too. The main menus are accessed via a QR code on the table, the children's menu is not, but copies didn't arrive until I asked for it specifically. The drinks list is comprehensive with a wide range of cocktails (including some non-alcoholic offerings), plenty of wines by the glass and some interesting beer and spirt offerings also. I stuck with my usual Hendricks and tonic (which was fine) during the meal, my wife enjoyed a Cucumber based non-alcoholic cocktail, and my kids were perfectly happy with their apple juice.
Lunch began with some lovely little nibbles; a suitably moreish cheese tart, slices of coppa ham and some excellent sourdough bread with delicious herby butter. Like all top restaurants, they served portions for the kids of the nibbles and bread, which is always nice to see. Lunch proper for me began with a little plate of beef tartare; it was an accomplished dish with some punchy flavours. My wife thoroughly enjoyed her crab salad (too much to let me try any) and both kids had a piece of very flavoursome garlic bread from the children's menu.
Next came... a wait. An unexpectedly long wait. In truth, it was an extraordinary long time before the main courses arrived; probably the longest wait I've ever had in a restaurant of this level. A waiter did come over (once) and apologise and look, I'm sure everyone is still getting back up to speed with indoor dining which I'm hugely sympathetic of, but it was still surprising. When it did eventually arrive, my Herdwick lamb with asparagus and onion was just about worth the wait, it was a very tasty plate. My wife's guinea fowl was an equally accomplished plate, whilst my daughter enjoyed a substantial portion of spaghetti bolognaise from the children's menu.
Much to my relief, desserts followed in a far more reasonable timeframe and were probably the most impressive plates of the meal. My caramelised apple mille feuille with walnut crumble was a lovely dessert on every level, whilst my wife's honey parfairt with ginger cake and pear sorbet was another dessert of real class. For the kids, a simple scoop of ice cream (chocolate for my daughter, strawberry for my son) was the order of the day.
And so, after receiving our bill without issue (complete with 10% service charge), an enjoyable lunch came to an end. The food is the highlight here with accomplished cooking on display in plentiful abundance. Service was good too, really the only niggles overall were that stunningly long wait for the main courses and also I would say the portion sizes of some dishes, in particular the starters which even for a 1* (which is undoubtedly the aim here) carte menu, were rather mean.
There's definitely a certain amount of kudos to receiving a star from our favourite tyre munching inspectors for your "casual" restaurant offering, and I'm fairly sure The Barn will at some point be bestowed with that honour; it was nice to see they're proud enough of the three AA rosette plate in the meantime to have that clearly on display though. I guess I'd sum up by saying this is a high quality, family friendly restaurant, and I'd have no issue whatsoever returning in future.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||4|