Meat-centric restaurant The Barn opens on Church Street


Leah Dunlevy/The Daily Northwestern

Amy Morton’s second Evanston Restaurant, The Barn, opened Nov. 1 down an alley on Church Street. The restaurant gets its name from the building’s former use as a horse barn.

Kristine Liao, Reporter

In an effort to strike a balance between rustic and elegant, The Barn, a new restaurant on Church Street, hides a large chandelier behind its 19th-century brick structure.

The Barn opened to the public on Nov. 1. It is the second Evanston restaurant for owner Amy Morton, who also owns Found Kitchen and Social House, 1631 Chicago Ave.

Located down an alley in downtown Evanston, the restaurant gets its name from its past use as a horse barn. Morton first heard about the building from her brother about seven years ago when she was looking for a location for Found.

“I just couldn’t stop thinking about this place. I felt like I had to use it,” Morton said. “ (And) I always knew I would do something with steak. Though never until I saw this building did it really come together.”

Although many of The Barn’s meals incorporate meat, it is not a steakhouse, Morton said. The dishes range from roasted chicken to venison tartare to a side of baby lettuce salad.

Morton said she aimed for a “soft opening” so the staff would not be overwhelmed. She limited the number of reservations during opening week, accepting more day by day.

“My feeling is this is a marathon not a sprint,” Morton said. “If we can hone our craft, we’ll be here for a long time. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. We don’t want to set ourselves up or you up for not having a great experience.”

Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said the restaurant is suitable for a variety of occasions such as date nights, birthday parties and business meetings.

“It’s not like any restaurant I’ve seen in a long time,” Coakley said. “It’s a beautiful, very lovely space.”

Executive chef Nicole Pederson said because there are already so many casual lunch places in Evanston, they wanted to “fill the niche” by providing a more formal dinner restaurant.

“The space itself is also kind of a hideaway, and the interior also works really well for evening dining,” Pederson said. “It was really more about how the space spoke to us.”

Both Morton and Pederson said diners’ reactions have been positive.

“It’s only been a couple of days since we’ve opened, but we’ve gotten a lot of comments about how the atmosphere and food go well together,” Pederson said. “The restaurant’s got a warm and comfortable environment, and they feel the same way about the menu.”

Unlike Found, where the menu is constantly changing, The Barn’s menu will only change twice a year. Morton said The Barn is more about consistency.

“Just as much as I love people who come into Found and always find something new, I believe there’s a market for people who just want what they want and to know that it’s going to be there,” Morton said.

The Barn is also a homage to Morton’s father, Arnie Morton, who founded Morton’s Steakhouse. The first restaurant he opened, Walton Walk, also featured an alleyway entrance.

The Barn is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and closes an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays.

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