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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
ebookAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
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

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices