Restaurant Review: Barbican Kitchen, Plymouth in Devon
Housed in the 15th century Plymouth Gin Distillery, Barbican Kitchen is a relaxed brasserie run by top chef brothers, Chris and James Tanner. If gin’s your thing then a tour around the distillery is a must as well as a drink in the gin bar next door. If you’re not a gin lover then fear not, the upmarket, yet casual and affordable, restaurant offers top quality food and a range of other drinks to complement.
James Tanner, of Ready Steady Cook fame, and his older brother, Chris have worked in many prestigious kitchens throughout their careers as well as appearing on TV, they opened Barbican Kitchen in 2006 and it has gone from strength to strength, accruing a solid team along the way.
The colourful, modern décor invites you in and chilled indie/pop music serenades you throughout your visit (at least it did during my lunch). Situated on the top floor, the long, chic restaurant, which seats about 100, has a pitch roof with exposed vents and lots of colour throughout offering up a contemporary meets industrial vibe. Large colourful canvases by Leanne Christie line the walls, while a wood floor, white walls, square tables, turquoise banquet seating and grey leather chairs complete the fresh look of the room.
My guest Nick and I took a break from shopping one Saturday at the end of November to enjoy a hearty lunch and we were spoiled for choice – the menu has 10 starters, 12 mains (including specials) plus a range of steaks cooked on the big green egg barbecue, as well as a set menu for lunch and dinner. While we took a peek over the menu we nibbled on some sticky honey chorizo pieces (I’m sure Nick had most of these before I got a chance!) and chunky breads served with rapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar. I sipped on a Plymouth Gin and tonic – it would be rude not to – and we enjoyed the easygoing atmosphere.
For my starter I couldn’t resist the whipped goat’s cheese, mulled pear, satsuma, gingerbread and candied walnuts (£6.95). The colourful ingredients were presented artfully in a light grey bowl and tasted absolutely beautiful. The light, fresh and delicate cheese was complemented so well by the crunchy textures of the walnuts, gingerbread thins and lettuce and the sweet satsuma. A wonderful start to the meal.
Nick is a lover of crab and it would be foolish not to choose it being so close to the water so he enjoyed the hand picked crab croquettes with a smoked paprika aioli (£9.95). He thought the portion size and flavours were good with the aioli having a nice kick to it.
For my main course I went for the Creedy Carver confit duck leg with potato gratin and red sauerkraut (£15.95) with a side of Chantenay carrots with honey and mustard (£3.95). The textureful meat fell off the bone with ease and was gorgeous with a crispy skin to boot. The gratin was a highlight; thin potato layers sandwiched with a creamy, cheesy sauce and a crispy top with a perfect accompaniment alongside the light and flavoursome jus, sweet carrots and tasty cabbage. All of this was paired nicely with a Chilean Pinot Noir, which was light and fruity and I thought it was beautiful cooking.
Again Nick opted for seafood with the beer battered fish, triple cooked chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce and lemon (£13.95). He was really pleased, stating that the fish was tender and retained its moisture inside the light, airy, crisp batter. The chips were big, crisp and fluffy inside, and he liked the chunky tartare sauce.
Vanilla bean crème brulee and a chocolate chip cookie was my choice of dessert and Nick finished his meal with warm spiced apple cake, English Cox’s and custard ice cream (£6.50 each). My crème brulee was light, cool, smooth and creamy with a crispy top – simple and perfect! The milk and white chocolate cookies (I had two!) were soft, sweet and ideal scooping up my dessert. Nick’s apple plate was full of gentle sweet and spicy flavours and smooth and crunchy textures. We couldn’t possibly fit another thing in, each portion was generous. The dishes were well balanced in terms of flavour, texture and colour and were thoughtfully presented.
Announced as patrons for Plymouth’s popular foodie event, Flavour Fest this year,Chris and James are also using Barbican Kitchen to raise money for a children’s charity. Visitors to the restaurant enjoying the set menu throughout January and February (excluding Valentine’s Day) will be offered an envelope at the table should they wish to donate to Children’s Hospice South West. The Dine and Donate event raised over £2,000 in 2016, which went towards hospice care for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families across the region.
IN A NUTSHELL
We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch here, a visit to the neighbouring gin bar is recommended after a tour of the downstairs distillery. It’s relaxed, the staff are friendly and efficient and, more importantly, the food is delicious, plentiful and I can’t wait to go back.
Address: Black Friars Distillery, 60 Southside Street, Plymouth PL1 2LQ
Phone: 01752 604448