Aaah Barnyard, what a long strange trip it's been. The soon-to-debut restaurant, overtaking Venice's longstanding breakfast nook Benice, first came to consciousness last July, when it was announced as the first L.A. restaurant to feature Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox as its chef. Then Fox fled in November, leaving the owners stranded without a chef or management team. This Friday, the restaurant will finally unveil itself to the public over dinner, back on its feet with Tasting Kitchen vet Jesse Barber in the kitchen. We may never know what Fox was planning here, but Barber's dinner menu lives up to the rustic name and expected concept, with small plates of market greens, cheese, olive-oil poached octopus, terrines, single-serve cassoulet, and ribs taking their influences from the Mediterranean and Far East. With no diosh over sixteen dollars, there are also bigger format plates of vegetarian entrees, proteins playing with market produce, a daily catch, and simple, hearty presentations of chicken, lamb, and pork.
The many months Barnyard (which joins such other obvious bucolic names and/or M.O.s as Farmshop, Artisan House, Muddy Leek, and Industriel) passed in development were not necessarily spent on the space; a low-roofed, rather plain spread of mismatched metal chairs, wooden tabletops, and concrete flooring that looks like your talented chef friends turned their garage into a cafe.
But Barnyard's opening, just steps away from the beach, does offer yet another adaptation for the off-Abbot Kinney Venice that is more often lumped together with sandy slices of pizza and funnel cake than it is with direct, well-sourced chef cooking and Cali and Belgian beers on tap. If diners can forget about Fox and like what they taste here, it could spell a whole new chapter for the boardwalk's dining options.
Barnyard opens Friday at 5:00 P.M., with lunch coming in March. Check out our slideshow of the space.
Barnyard, 1715 Pacific Ave. Venice; 310-581-1015.