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Blue Barn Gourmet
Bringing Oak Hill Farm to the Marina
by Sarah Sung on Jul 04, 2008
The food at this rustic, diminutive salad-and-sandwich spot is direct-from-the-farm fresh (owner Sam Josi’s family owns Oak Hill Farm), and it’s all gourmet, from the greens and fixings in the salads to the sandwiches and grilled cheese panini. It only takes about five customers to make this sliver of a “barn” feel packed, but the end result is worth a bit of awkward shuffling.
On various visits, we sampled from the menu of eight chef’s specialty salads. All of the ingredients in the salad with beets and greens ($8.50 + $2.50 for chicken) were chopped into perfect bite-sized pieces -- roasted beets, caramelized onions, candied pecans -- and topped with crunchy garlic croutons, bursting pomegranate seeds and fresh goat cheese. The textures alone made this salad worth eating.
Similarly, the Chinese chicken salad ($9) boasted thoughtfully tailored textures -- crispy noodles, whole almonds, carrot slivers, blood oranges, Satsuma tangerines and scallions, all tossed in a sweet-and-sour vinaigrette.
The wakame salad is probably not for everyone, but was likely our favorite, a refreshing, distinctly Japanese number filled with crispy soba noodles, romaine, marinated seaweed, pickled ginger, cucumber and edamame in a ginger vinaigrette. At $13, if you add grilled shrimp, the prices do start getting steep for a lunch salad.
The only miss seemed to be the nicoise ($11), which is nothing like the archetype. The requisite poached tuna, a few olives, and (truffled) fingerlings were present, but the butternut squash threw us off. And where were the haricots verts? The Mexican-inspired tostada ($14) is quickly becoming a house favorite, but this is no surprise considering that chef Josi also co-owns Mamacita (as well as Umami).
The “sandos,” ($6.50 - $11), as they call them, range from a few vegetarian choices (such as falafel with tahini crème fraiche) to meat options like the aptly named "Rooster," with chile/lime-grilled chicken, Niman Ranch bacon, and avocado. On one visit, we tried the "Buddha," and the combination of hummus, caramelized onion, roasted portobella, roasted red pepper, watercress and feta on whole wheat was satisfying and very healthy, although we could’ve skipped the feta.
Six grilled-cheese panini ($7.50 - $9) -- cheddar, swiss, goat, sheep, brie and burrata -- round out the menu, the goat and burrata being the only two meatless options. Under the panini board, pre-made salads and containers of homemade macaroni and cheese keep cool in a glass fridge, atop of which chunky rice krispy treats, brownies and paper-thin chocolate chip cookies are displayed.
The space is exceedingly small, with room for five squeezed in at the bar, two deuces by the window and two sidewalk tables. But the to-go orders, presented in oversized Chinese takeout packaging with the very-Americana blue barn stamp, are the spot's raison d'être.
by Sarah Sung on Jul 04, 2008