Islington pop-up restaurant is barn-storming
�A disused car garage of hangar-like proportions might not seem like the ideal place to dine out during the depths of a freezing Islington winter.
But using nothing more than a passion for food and a dollop of creativity, popular chef and food writer Philip Dundas, known as Pip, and Robert Barker, who runs food-delivery service Farm Direct, have turned a former Citro�n garage in Upper Street into The Barn – a pop-up restaurant and farm shop.
It took weeks to clear the grease-splattered walls and blocked drains and the result is a homely space with an open kitchen, a shop selling fresh produce and a communal eating area in which diners sit on haystacks around trestle tables.
Guests are treated to anywhere between three and seven courses, depending on what Pip can whip up from what he has in the kitchen, and most meals are accompanied by live music. The place exudes a congenial, friendly atmosphere as eaters sip their “bring your own” bottles.
In addition, business has been so brisk that the team are able to put on free lunches for local pensioners, in conjunction with Age UK.
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But getting The Barn in ship-shape was quite a struggle. Pip, who has written one book, Cooking Without Recipes, and is hard at work on his second, said: “I used to take my old car to the garage, so when I saw the lease was up I got in touch.
“It was thick with 50 years worth of grease, all over the walls and blocking the drains and there was no running water. I had to get on my hands and knees and scrub for four weeks and install everything for the kitchen.
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“People have to take the building for what it is and kind of roll with us. We are exposed to the elements, sometimes my gas pressure doesn’t work so well because of the cold, and we have a heater and offer blankets in chilly weather.
“But I think people enjoy the communal dining aspect – people aren’t normally sat together and talking to each other.
“And we never compromise on the food – we stand up as well as anyone in the culinary sense.
“Some restaurants put a barrier between you and them, and you don’t feel the love of the food. We wanted to get away from that.”
n For more information, visit www.pipsdish.co.uk