Young Barn Pub and Oyster Bar

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 wtinyoysteras 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).

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4 responses to “Young Barn Pub and Oyster Bar

  1. As for oyster sizes, I hear that summer is their spawning season, so they’re expending all their energy making babies and actually shrink and can be off-tasting. But then in Miami last week I had some of the biggest oysters I’d ever seen, so who knows.

  2. I too am a long time oyster lover and I have no problems with C.O.B. I go back to the original location in the old Burger Chef building and have never had a problem then or now. My experiences with Young Barn have been quite different from yours. I agree that serving tiny oysters without adding to the dozen is wrong, but I have been places that served 13 when 8 out of 13 were small, such is the nature of oysters. My overall impression of Young Barn is fun, beachy, and clean. My wife and I have been there for dinner 3 times and it has gotten better each time. Our last entree being a tilapia with fresh crabmeat and lemon caper sauce which was both unexpected and quite delicious. I also agree that the pickles are tasty. We have eaten the oysters on every visit and they have been consistantly good.
    I tend to be skepical of resturant and movie revues because they are subjective by nature. I always assume that new places will have a learning curve for both kitchen and wait staff which is why I usually do not go to brand new places for at least a few weeks. It is possible that if you were to try again you might have a better experience. I say this after reading your review of China East which I have visited twice. The first trip was after a movie one evening and it could not have been better. Three weeks later we drove there on purpose and it was not nearly as good. So it goes.

  3. Agreed that all reviews, whether of restaurants or music or movies or sports teams, involve opinions. No revelation there. That’s why they are reviews and not math problems. Opinions are, by definition, subjective. We hope you’ll continue to read ours, but understand if you prefer the other pages in the vast universe of web pages about Montgomery, Alabama.

    It’s true that it’s not entirely fair to go to a place during their first few days of being open. Then again, that’s when interest about a place is highest. People want to know whether the new place is any good. So we went. And it wasn’t. What you think is “beachy” came across to us as antiseptic Jimmy Buffet trappings stuck to a wall in a strip mall. But opinions will vary.

    Our main point isn’t that the experience couldn’t improve. Rather, with the Capitol Oyster Bar fulfilling our needs for great fresh seafood, the tradeoff comes down squarely in the court of the COB. But thanks again for posting your opinions too. Please keep reading as we add more to the site!

  4. Pingback: Wintzell’s Montgomery « Lost in Montgomery

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