I did a double take when I stumbled across the website for Barnyard Kitchen and Bar. Fried green tomatoes with house-smoked pork belly? Fried chicken on buttermilk biscuits with house pickles? Fresh local goats milk and sheep’s milk cheeses made in an on-site creamery? Wait ... is this in Idaho? Turns out it most definitely is, near the big box dominated corner of Fairview Avenue and Eagle Road.
Housed in the former Muse Bistro & Wine Bar building in Meridian, Barnyard spruced up the space with a few farmhouse flourishes—a sliding barn door, wood tables and metal cafe chairs.
Barnyard operates a Grade A creamery on premise, where they have the ability to craft fresh cheeses, milks and yogurts from local goats milk, sheep’s milk and jersey cow milk. Barnyard also bakes its breads fresh daily and serves them with housemade butters.
The restaurant boasts a full bar that serves up craft cocktails—like the Gentleman Farmer with Bulleit Rye, black tea, Peychauds and Bergamot Herbsainte or the Watermelon Julep with Maker's Mark, watermelon juice and mint simple syrup.
I swung by for lunch on a recent weekday and the place was fairly quiet to start, but picked up as the meal lingered on. With a mason jar full of unsweetened iced tea in hand, I scanned the menu. Small Plate options included deviled eggs with house-smoked paprika, butcher block fries with smoked brisket and the Picnic Trio with sheep’s milk yogurt and za’atar; smoked salmon and chevre; and black eyed pea hummus with crisp vegetables and pita bread.
The sandwich selections were a bit heartier, with choices like the open face Salisbury Steak with a fried egg, bacon and green tomato chow chow or the Smoked Brisket with house pickles, smoky tomato jam, swiss cheese and grilled country bread.
We opted to split the Smoked Chicken Salad with avocado, basil oil, cornbread croutons, fried capers, frisee and yogurt buttermilk ranch dressing, along with the Fried Chicken on a biscuit sliders with house pickles, honey hot sauce, french fries and coleslaw, served in an adorable mini cast iron pan.
The chicken on the salad had an bold smoke flavor while the fried chicken was moist, with a thin-yet-crunchy batter. The biscuits were serviceable vehicles for the fried chicken—they didn't crumble to a buttery dust upon first bite, like some biscuits do—but they lacked the fluffy, flaky magic of their more authentic Southern brethren. The slaw, on the other hand, was textbook southern—lightly sweet with a mild cabbage crunch and general creamy inoffensiveness.
One slider, some crispy fries and half a caper-dusted salad was more than enough to fill me up for lunch. But next time I'm in the area, I'll duck in to sample the Shrimp 'n Grits with roasted tomatoes, smoked ham and porter chicken jus or the Chicken 'n Watermelon 'n Waffles, served with chilled spiced watermelon, a cheddar waffle and a peach bourbon reduction syrup. Barnyard Kitchen and Bar feels like a slow-paced Southern retreat in the midst of congested Meridian chaos.