Order this... Farm to fork flavors at The Barn

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 8:00pm

Block Island is replete with barns dotting the landscape. 

Some are old and covered with vines, others are still in use as woodsheds, second dwellings, or have hay and horses peeking out the windows. 

The Barn at the Spring House, however, is more than decorative. 

A simple kitchen with a wood-fired grill fills this barn with the smell of delicious “farm-to-fork” food served every week from Wednesday through Sunday. Chef Tom works his magic with fresh ingredients that come straight from the magnificent Spring House gardens. Each morning he meets with gardener Humberto and dinner that night will reflect what comes out of the question: “What do you have that’s fresh?” The answer is reflected in every dish on the menu that night. 

Sous Chef Carter and Chef Tom keep it sweet and simple, letting the flavors in each dish speak for themselves. Sweet garden tomatoes that “never see a fridge” make their way into panzenella salad, and soon will be featured in tomato jam and relish that will accompany upcoming dishes. Look into the Spring House Garden on the way to The Barn and whatever looks ready to pick is probably what you’ll be eating that night.

See (and Smell!) This:

One of the first things you’ll notice when you walk in is the smell of apple wood smoke that makes you feel like you’re at a campfire, or in a house with a wood stove. Everything smells like home. 

The open kitchen complements that feeling perfectly. The kitchen is surrounded by an L-shaped counter; you’re welcome to have a front row seat to watch the staff prep and cook your meal. Chef Tom is personable and does a wonderful job paying attention to his craft while interacting with guests, answering questions about himself and how he does what he does. The dining room is simply set with elegant wood tables covered with Kraft paper runners. Sunflowers in Mason jars adorn each one. An indoor-outdoor patio seating area provides shelter from the elements while providing a stunning view of the southeast side of the island —Tom says it reminds him of his home in New Hampshire. Down the hillside a small garden is full of fresh kale, garlic, and hot peppers. Old tools from the farm adorn the walls, along with portraits of islanders painted by long-time resident John “Doc” Willis. In the bar, pieces of wood from the old barn rafters cover the walls, each one signed by staff members who lived in the barn while working at the Spring House at the turn of the century.  

Taste This:  

Pork Osso Bucco surrounded by squash and potatoes was so tender it practically fell off the bone. Braised for over five hours in a mix of cider, brandy, honey and herbs, later reduced to a Demi-glace, the pork was succulent and appealing in the savory sauce, which was rich but not overpowering. Locally-caught swordfish was smoky and sweet, served with charred onions and a pepperanada: red and yellow bell peppers, capers, and a tangy sweet and sour balsamic sauce that binds it all together. Vegetables picked earlier in the day appeared on both plates — after spending some time on the wood-fired grill — sprinkled with salt, pepper, a little extra virgin olive oil. No need to add anything to vegetables so fresh; creamy potatoes and squash taste like the sun and earth that nourished them hours ago.

What everyone else is eating/drinking:

Peter from Idaho and Kerry from California have been here before, and love the wood-fired grill and the “cozy space, great menu and cool bar area.” Peter pronounced the Osso Bucco “the perfect savory dish” and Kerry said the local swordfish was “excellent.” Both added that “we are glad that The Barn is open this summer. We usually have come in the fall and are happy to be able to visit now too!” A group from Connecticut: John, Marge, Theresa, Andy Pammie, and Tracy were here for the first time and came based on the reputation of The Barn’s sister restaurant, The Spring House. “We like The Spring House and so we thought we’d try this, too. They are very accommodating — we first sat inside and then asked to be moved because it’s so nice outside, and they were great. Service was excellent.” Two had the Osso Bucco — “awesome;” two had the risotto — “delicious;” and two had the turkey “also really delicious.” All shared the salumi board — a selection of cheese and meats — and the Brussel sprouts, panzenella salad, and potato soup. “Very generous portions and very good food,” was the overall consensus from the Connecticut six. The Barn also fit the bill for just-off-the-ferry Lauren and Colin from Billerica, Mass. The couple was staying at The Spring House and were delighted to find such great food and a fantastic view. They sat outside and remarked it was “nice to be outside. It’s really relaxing to be here.” Lauren and Colin had the turkey and swordfish, and were especially impressed with the Brussel sprouts, saying the “aioli was a great surprise.” They would recommend the restaurant to anyone who wants “fresh vegetables, good ambience and farm to table food.”

What makes The Barn unique is that it feels like you are in someone’s home at a big family gathering while the chef prepares fresh ingredients and puts them together in such a way that the entire dish is so much more than the sum of its parts. Your experience at The Barn can be an intimate dinner for two or a great way to make new friends and learn a thing or two about what goes into cooking the food you’re about to eat.

Barns on Block Island each have their own character. Come see what The Barn has in store for you.