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)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England