Food reviewers like to give a new restaurant a month or more to settle in and work out the kinks, but when The Barn opened Nov. 1, my party of four already had a reservation for two short weeks from opening night. Hello, deadline! I was quite prepared to cut the food and service some slack because of the timing, but no need. The Barn’s waitstaff and kitchen worked in seamless perfection. Director of Operations Stefen Bosworth, Executive Chef Nicole Pederson and owner Amy Morton have turned what was literally a horse stable into a gorgeous gathering spot. You might recognize those names as the team behind Found Kitchen and Social House. While this restaurant is quite different in concept, look and menu, the team’s synergy got things off the ground with aplomb at this new Evanston spot.
Starting with the food, you immediately see the differences from Found. “This menu has more structure, and I think of it as more masculine—no sharing small plates,” says Morton. “Also, the menu at Found is always changing, but there’s something to be said for always having that dish you love on the menu.” And that dish might be one of the appetizers. The venison tartare is a twist on the classic steak tartare, but served with a grated root vegetable remoulade and sweet potato chips. The tomato and onion tart will catch your eye as you walk in. It’s prominently on display, but what you can’t see is the cornmeal crust that you’ll be craving for weeks to come. “We must have made that tart 30 or 40 times before we got it right,” says Pederson. “I had this dream of a grand tart in the dining room—I’m a Francophile at heart!”