We had gone to buy a lawnmower. It was after work, and we were hot and tired and surprisingly hungry after buying the lawnmower and a new electric screwdriver (because we are idiots and lost the charger for the old one even though there are only about 6 outlets in our entire house and we were pretty sure it was plugged in to one of those).
All of this made us susceptible to the siren call of the Boulevard’s newest billboard. If you’re heading south, just before you get to the “Shakespeare post office,” it points you west down something called Young Barn Road to “Montgomery’s nicest oyster bar.”
We had no defenses. Oysters? Beer? Procrastinating assembling the lawn mower? All under the guise of writing a review for the blog? At a high class joint? Oh hell yes. We followed the sign’s promise all the way to the anonymous tiny strip mall sitting next to the anonymous huge apartment complex that straddles the curve where Young Barn connects the Boulevard to Vaughan Road.
Regular readers may recall how simply gaga we are about the Capitol Oyster Bar. If the C.O.B. was worried that we’d leave her for the competition, well, there’s simply nothing to fret about. That would be an unforgivable lapse of taste equivalent to leaving Kim Deal for Ashlee Simpson.
Like poor Ashlee, Young Barn is lip synching the real deal. And doing a pathetic jig. It is the de-natured Capitol Oyster Bar. It’s what would happen if you coated the C.O.B. in Oxyclean and stripped away all of the atmosphere that makes you feel like you are in a working class place where your parents might have eaten. Decor-wise, Young Barn Oyster Bar looks like a Banana Republic made sweet love to a Margaritaville but forgot to call in the morning.
It has 12 neon beer signs, each of them promoting something mild and boring, as if they were in some sort of Neon Beer Sign of the Month Club and had to wait until that special Bud Light sign arrived before opening the doors.
We ordered beer. We had to. We were writing a review! The Budweiser American Ale (a “premium” beer) isn’t so bad. Too bad the bartender had no idea a) how much it cost, or b) how to work a beer tap. She explained that when she used to tend bar years ago, draft beer was illegal. Maybe she could have come in and practiced before the grand opening? Certainly working a beer tap is a skill that I have seen many 16-year-olds master.
We ordered the fried pickles, a dozen raw oysters, and a half dozen “Texas” oysters. I do not know why my companion ordered the “Texas” oysters. Perhaps this is part of the joy of marriage – learning that someone you think you know intimately, someone whose decisions you respect, trust, and cherish, can still surprise you by destroying perfectly good oysters by melting cheese on them and topping them with a jalapeno slice. Without bacon. Twice, because the first time they showed up with bacon anyway.
The fried pickles were awesome. They came with a honey mustard sauce, and were just right, and went terrifically with the beer. I had never had fried pickles before (remember that I’m not from here – still learning), and would immediately add them to my Bar Food Canon.
The raw oysters tasted good, and were $1.50 more per dozen than we’d had at C.O.B. Could be different market price – hard to say. But the shucking was inconsistent, with some shell shards left in, and other oysters not quite ready to slurp. And size varied CONSIDERABLY. We were actually served one of the smallest oysters we’d ever seen as part of our dozen. Any self-respecting part of the restaurant chain of command should have said, “You know what? That’s a 13th oyster.” But no, here it was, easily snuck off in a napkin to take a photo of later – to scale. The less said about the Texas Oysters the better.
All in all, the idea that someone would choose to eat at Young Barn over the Capitol Oyster Bar is absurd. It’s the kind of thing that leads someone in the journalism industry to write what is neither a food review nor a news article about a new restaurant opening, preferring instead to ask the owner of a new restaurant whether his or her food is any good. Shameful. (Note: Terrible non-article from Montgomery Advertiser about Young Barn Pub and Oyster Bar is now removed from their site).