New York magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt files periodic musings for Grub Street, under the pseudonym the Gobbler.
Haute Barnyard restaurants like the Tasting Room have been around for a while now, but the phrase is new — so new, in fact, that the Gobbler is the only one using it. Therefore it requires a little elaboration. All Haute Barnyard restaurants are Greenmarket establishments, of course, their menus more or less dictated by the rhythms of the season. New York's versions of the genre, however, have evolved their own highly self-conscious style.
A true Haute Barnyard restaurant, for instance, strives to have at least three varieties of artisanal mushrooms on the menu. There might be pictures of animals on the walls. The tables are almost always made of wood. Preferably, at least one of these tables is communal, for big, happy group dining, the way city dwellers imagine farming folk prefer.
The most prized variety of meat at a Haute Barnyard establishment is not beef but pork. Often the pedigree of this unfortunate hog is printed on the menu in loving detail. Also displayed in loving detail: the restaurant's farm suppliers, whether on the menu or, increasingly, on huge, rustic-looking chalkboards affixed to the wall. The Gobbler has noticed that Haute Barnyard chefs favor American cheeses over French ones. They also tend to have an egg fetish. There will often be herbs in the bathroom, and, if you're lucky, a sprig of lavender.
Finally, if you aspire to true Haute Barnyard correctness, it helps to name your restaurant after a farm, although it's not essential. Oh, and one more thing: This is New York City, not Lawrence, Kansas. When dining in true Haute Barnyard style — perhaps at one of the establishments listed in the Gobbler's Hall of Fame below — it's best to be on an expense account.
• Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It's on a farm, for God's sake.
• Per Se. Thomas Keller is the high priest of ingredient fetishists; his odes to various bucolic suppliers take up half the menu.
• Craft. The artisanal-mushroom epidemic began here, among many other Haute Barnyard innovations.
• Blue Hill. It's named after the Barber brothers childhood farm.
• Cookshop. The comfort-food version of Craft.
• Telepan. At long last, Bill Telepan brings barnyard hauteur to the Upper West Side.
• Applewood. The most highbrow barnyard establishment in a borough (Brooklyn) filled with them.
• The Tasting Room. The most expensive mushrooms in town.
• Pure Food and Wine. The city's vegan paradise, replete with a fine biodynamic wine list and lambent portraits of baby farm animals on the walls.
• Savoy. A seminal boutique barnyard establishment; according to the Gobbler's spies, they even cook partridge in the fireplace.