Dylan's, Barnet, Hertfordshire

Urban style at the outer limits

And yet here - looking as if it's been airdropped in from Soho or Covent Garden - is Dylan's, which is chic, with its sage-green and plum frontage, clean, uncluttered dining rooms and modish patches of floral wallpaper. It looks like the cover of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, and when restaurants look like the year's arty beach read, you know they've been pretty freshly turned out. There is an explanation. The décor in the Sweet Cherry and Tandoori Nights harks back to a homeland left behind, and in a different way, so does that of Dylan's, which is run by a team who emigrated here from One Aldwych, the hotel just off the Strand. They've made a new life in Zone Five but a bit of their hearts will always belong to Zone One.

There's a lot to like about Dylan's and on the night we went a lot of people were there liking it. It has the buzz of a place that people are glad to be in - a vibration of contentment that bounces back off the efficient front of house staff. All the same, I left a little disappointed.

What works is simple; the décor is crisp and attractive (though the Tardis effect of stepping directly from 1930s Metroland into 21st-century cool may amplify its virtues a little) and the eclectic menu falls on just the right side of the familiarity watershed - not dull, but reassuring. They even have a decent children's menu, offering smaller portions of the more child-friendly elements on the grown-up version, rather than chicken-slurry extrusions and freezer pizza.

Unfortunately not all the details are quite pinned down. Take for example my starter of organic smoked salmon with parsnip waffles and horseradish cream (£6.40) - a thoughtful twist on a standard blini, but let down by a flabby, slightly greasy waffle. And though the horseradish cream was delicious it was applied to the plate like filigree, there wasn't nearly enough of it to keep step with the generous turban of smoked salmon. My wife's seared scallops (£8.90) were perfectly cooked and the celeriac purée they sat on was an effective cushion for the flavour - but the beetroot crisp had relaxed at some point into a beetroot flap. True, my son's chicken caesar salad disappeared with great speed, but then he's about as discerning a gourmet as a garden-shredder. A Thai-style beef salad (£6.80) came with ribbons of nicely seared meat but had substituted radicchio and sweet pepper for the more conventional slivers of cucumber and spring onion and carrot, an alteration that didn't notably improve the dish.

Main courses were mixed too. A fillet of beef (£15.90) and a child's steak were fine - good meat, properly cooked - and the open ravioli of wild mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke sauce (£12.50) had the right bosky richness to it. But my cod with smoked haddock and vegetable chowder (£13) was curiously bland, as if the cream overpowered the smoked fish entirely, and my wife's risotto of roast shallot and thyme was (I regret there is no other word) claggy.

Desserts were more consistent. Five spoons made short work of Malteser parfait with raspberry sorbet, crème brûlée with fresh raspberries and an unusually light sticky toffee pudding with banana ice-cream (all at £4.90). Which means we all leave in a good mood except me - fretting over how close Dylan's gets to being a great local restaurant and whether I can justify pretending that it's already there.

Dylan's, 21 Station Parade, Cockfosters Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire, 020-8275 1551

Food ***
Ambience ****
Service ****

Three courses, without wine, £25-£30

SIDE ORDERS: SUBURBAN STARS

By Caroline Stacey

Le Gallois

Lamb navarin with pea and bean fricassee - great Welsh meat and top French technique in Cardiff's chicest quartier. Not just a neighbourhood restaurant but one of the city's best.

8-10 Romilly Cres, Canton, Cardiff (029 2034 1264)

Jessica's

Innovative cooking of the highest order has given star status to this airy Victorian villa. A typical starter: goat's cheese, beet sorbet, watercress purée and beetroot crisps.

1 Montague Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham (0121-455 0999)

The Lime Tree

With roast loin of lamb and sticky toffee pudding plus seasonal dishes, who needs faddish foods? The evergreen Lime Tree is loved for quality and consistency.

8 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, Greater Manchester (0161-445 1217)

Quantro

What's not to like? Unthreateningly chic and with nicely behaved and priced dishes like ham hock terrine with pea panna cotta, this presses all the right buttons for Leeds' city-centre avoiders. 62 Street Lane,

Roundhay, Leeds (0113-288 8063)

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all