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What is the Difference, You Ask?

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OK, here goes: One is sun-splashed by day, a long graceful room which lends itself to a candlelit flirtatious elegance by night. The other is speakeasy dark, with deep leather armchairs and french antiques, the kind of place where you can turn the music up and kick back. Look, we admittedly traffic in these descriptions of how The Barn and The Gallery differ - but the truth is they don’t really answer the question of where you’d rather be on any given day or evening. Talented chefs, check. A focus on seasonality, check. Sourcing locally, whenever we can, double check. These are dining rooms after all, where you come to eat. Yet I’d venture that while the savor of the meal is the ultimate litmus test when one dines out, and while we all crave enticing spaces, we return only if we’ve been taken care of, body and spirit.

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If you don’t need a bit of cosseting for a few hours these days, I’d like the name of your therapist or yoga master. Life, for all its joys, can be bloody hard. The living of it. The making sense of it. We dined at a ‘fabulous’ restaurant in NY recently where we were made to wait before being seated cheek by jowl on designer friendly butt numbing seats, rushed through a meal wherein we could barely hear ourselves think much less talk. I honestly don’t remember if the food was good or not. At some point it became immaterial. Nobody around us seemed to mind - or did they? Dining out should not be an Emperor’s New Clothes conundrum. Food is social communion. The nourishment we seek longs to satisfy all our senses.

Frank Bruni’s article in the NYT recently made the case for ‘older’ diners needing a familiar, softer experience; where the food was not a challenge so much as a return to flavors that made them happy. Call it old fashioned. Call it whatever you want, he’s not wrong, except- it isn’t just older folk who want to be cared for, not just fed. It’s a desire we see in anyone of any age who arrives at your door willing to give you a few hours of their precious time and part with money in exchange for leaving refreshed and truly satisfied. A tall order, for sure. The first step is humility.

The Barn’s CRISPY DUCK CONFIT, on the dinner menu, with white bean purèe, tokyo turnips, baby carrots, pomme paillasson.

The Barn’s CRISPY DUCK CONFIT, on the dinner menu, with white bean purèe, tokyo turnips, baby carrots, pomme paillasson.

SEARED DUCK BREAST on a recent Sunday Supper in The Gallery, with citrus risotto, pickled chicory, roasted asparagus, fresh garden herbs.

SEARED DUCK BREAST on a recent Sunday Supper in The Gallery, with citrus risotto, pickled chicory, roasted asparagus, fresh garden herbs.

In the Barn: Bellwether Farm’s Cheesecake with Barndiva Farm pears, preserved and dehydrated. Spring floral arrangement by Daniel Carlson. Image by Eva Perla, a German journalist writing about the history of farm to table in Healdsburg.

In the Barn: Bellwether Farm’s Cheesecake with Barndiva Farm pears, preserved and dehydrated. Spring floral arrangement by Daniel Carlson. Image by Eva Perla, a German journalist writing about the history of farm to table in Healdsburg.

In The Gallery: Fritto Misto with smelts rich in Omega 3, veg and citrus. Not shown, the jolly little bucket of dipping aioli that comes with it.

In The Gallery: Fritto Misto with smelts rich in Omega 3, veg and citrus. Not shown, the jolly little bucket of dipping aioli that comes with it.

Another difference between our two dining rooms: The Gallery is where we hold our private events. Many start with dining in the gardens, dancing inside til the wee hours but in the shoulder months, or on the occasion of inclement weather, we move inside and lose some tables after dinner.

Another difference between our two dining rooms: The Gallery is where we hold our private events. Many start with dining in the gardens, dancing inside til the wee hours but in the shoulder months, or on the occasion of inclement weather, we move inside and lose some tables after dinner.

At the end of the day, great food and intriguing spaces mean nothing if the welcome - the entire experience - is not genuine. The Barndiva family is made up of chefs, managers, front of house, bartenders, and event staff who understand this. Our greatest blessing, beyond living where we do, are the people who have chosen to work here alongside us.

FOH line up with Chefs Danny Girolomo and Randy Dodge

FOH line up with Chefs Danny Girolomo and Randy Dodge

Natalie Nelson, Barndiva events coordinator, with some of her extraordinary team

Natalie Nelson, Barndiva events coordinator, with some of her extraordinary team

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