A north London cafe that has earned its rightful place amongst the capital's top gastronomic choices
The Barn could be that place you take a photo of for when you’re down in the dumps. The layout, the staff and the homemade food make for an unforgettable experience.
This lower-ground eatery (you have to go down a few steps before you enter food heaven) is located on Holloway Road, north London, a short saunter from Highbury and Islington Tube and Overground stations and around the corner from Arsenal Football Club’s The Emirates.
With so many restaurants and greasy spoons around, a food lover is always spoiled for choice in this area. I’ve had some lovely fish and chips from Fish and Skewers, just on the other side of the road. I have used my injera to mop up the juices of cubed tender lamb in my awaze tibs at Mesi’s Kitchen.
However, when it comes to breakfast, I’ll stop at The Barn, if time allows. The key phrase is “if time allows”. Time stops at The Barn. You’re ushered to your seat by one of the three brothers who run the café and immediately you feel at home. A home you’re not in any rush to leave any time soon.
On my latest visit I went for the grilled halloumi on toast with roast veg combo. It also came with mixed baby leaf, balsamic glaze and chilli oil. All this was laid on two pieces of toasted ciabatta. The ciabatta was warm, the salad crunchy and the halloumi nicely done. To drink, I had what I always have: a strong mocha (sometimes with a triple shot of espresso, if I’m in the mood)
The place was almost empty when I arrived but after a few minutes two regulars came down. I realised they were regulars because the staff asked about both their wellbeing and that of their relatives’. One of them was a woman who pulled out a laptop from her bag. Another one who was not going to leave any time soon.
Restaurants, cafes and bars have taken a big hit during these Covid-ravaged times. It goes without saying that whenever I’ve got the time and finances to stop at one of these establishments and sample their food, I do so without thinking of a certain price hike (bearing in mind that the bill came up to just over a tenner, that was not a bad deal). Places like The Barn are not just food joints but hubs. The man eating his “The Barn Breakfast” two tables away from me would definitely agree.