I am no stranger to this traditional English pub having spent many Sunday lunchtimes as a child watching my father play jazz there. That was some 30 years ago so I was very interested to pay a visit and see what has changed.
Whilst the exterior looks pretty familiar, the interior décor and menu have changed beyond recognition. The Geronimo Inns group took over the pub some 14 months ago and it has had a complete overhaul.
Whilst still un-mistakably barns with high ceilings and beams, the two original buildings have been joined together and tastefully modernised. It is very much lighter and brighter inside than it use to be, and is all the better for it. The back wall of the main barn is now a huge bookcase and the furniture is pleasingly varied and well spaced apart, adding to the spacious feel and giving diners a good degree of privacy.
The pub`s focus now seems to be on serving great food, with a menu I would describe as modern English. The menu changes every month and has a good balance of fish and meat mains with 4 salad options and 2 hot vegetarian options. I opted for the Haddock fishcake with poached egg as recommended by the manager, it was filling and delicious. I also ordered a side order of their homemade chips in sea salt. It`s worth a visit for these alone – real chips more like potato wedges.
My companion is a notoriously fussy eater and usually struggles to find something that appeals, but she had trouble deciding what to choose – for all the right reasons! She tried the home made bacon cheese burger and asked for it to be served without the cheese but with onions on the side. None of this was too much trouble. The Red Barn prides themselves in their homemade burgers and she wasn`t disappointed.
We were also recommended their beer battered fish, which they are now offering as a take-away option. I saw some come out of the kitchen and wished I lived closer as I would definitely order some. Unfortunately a forty minute drive is a bit too far for take-aways.
We decided to skip starters in favour of a dessert and were glad we did. We tried `Aunties Sharing plate` – what a great choice. I am a sucker for brulee and can be quite critical if they are either too thick or runny, or if the topping isn`t right. Their gooseberry version was spot on and the elderflower jelly was refreshing. We were almost too full for the cherry and almond trifle, but it was very rich and full flavoured.
Throughout the summer on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, weather permitting, you can try the BBQ`s, order a hog roast for a special occasion or visit the farmers market they hold on the first Saturday of every month.
Price-wise, starters average a reasonable £5, mains are between £9 and £18 and desserts are generally under £5 – the sharing plate was £9.
The thing that really made the Red Barn a great place for me is the details. Food is nicely presented, many of the main courses arrive on wooden boards, the staff are extremely helpful and service was restaurant standard (unusual for a pub), and they are trying to continuously improve and ask for diners for feedback. Word seems to be getting out as the pub was buzzing, especially for a Wednesday night. In the words of `Arnie` – `I`ll be back` as I have to try the fish and chips and would like to have another gooseberry brulee before they change the menu!
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