Mike Lawson, Jr., and Dave invite you to the Halloween festivities at Barn 34.
Gina and Jenny sipped Spiced Apple Cider and ate homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits at Barn 34.
Rachel, Frankie, and Jessica welcome customers to Barn 34.
Ocean City locals are pleased to see Barn 34 thriving since it opened its doors for business earlier in 2014. The restaurant's barn ambiance is the perfect setting for the holiday season. Currently, the barn is donned in fall harvest and Halloween decor, including pumpkins, hay, wreaths, and foliage, plus a few ghouls and goblins.
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My photographer friend, Gina Whaley (D3 Corp), and I basked in the autumn appeal of Barn 34 this week, when we sipped hot, Spiced Apple Cider with cinnamon sticks, and ate homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits next to a glowing candelabrum. The warm, cozy vibe of Barn 34 can't be overstated. "Business is great," said Mike Lawson Jr., who owns and operates the restaurant alongside his parents, Mike and Mary Anne Lawson. "Next week we're starting homemade Chicken and Dumplings on Tuesday nights, featuring the secret recipe of our longtime family friend and employee, Miss Peggy."
Monday night offers half-priced Fish Tacos at Barn 34, and Tuesday is also half-priced Burger night. The upstairs bar showcases live entertainment every Saturday night. Local artist Adam Bilenki will bring his guitar and vocal talents to Barn 34 this Saturday, November 1. Meanwhile, the restaurant continues to serve the most important meal of the day, breakfast, which has earned Barn 34 top accolades from locals and visitors alike.
Gina insisted that I try the Fish Tacos, and I'm so glad that she did. What sets apart the Fish Tacos at Barn 34? A major differentiator is the parmesan-encrusted soft shell, as well as thick slices of fresh avocado, Pico de Gallo, dock fresh Mahi Mahi, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and special sauce. The recipe is from Puerto Rico, where the Lawson family spends time experimenting with recipes and ingredients that influence the Barn 34 menu.
Because it was Burger Night, Gina and I also sampled the Barn 34 Plus Gourmet Burger with blue cheese, fresh tomato, lettuce, and sweet pickles. Each burger is served on a freshly baked Brioche Bun from local baker Crack of Dawn. Barn 34 is well known for its Burgers and Chicken Sandwiches. Half-pound burgers are made from fresh ground chuck from the same local butcher that provides steaks to the restaurant.
Try a Barn 34 Burger or Chicken Sandwich with your choice of cheeses, including feta, blue cheese, or goat cheese. Named after owner Mike Lawson, “The Big Mike” Burger is topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, teriyaki, and grilled onion. Named after a local brewery, the Burley Oak Burger is stuffed with onions and pepper jack cheese, and made with special Burley Oak sauce. The Blackened Fish Sandwich with jalapeño tarter is another worthy highlight on the menu, as well as Lump Meat Crab Cake Sandwich, Triple Decker Club, Grilled Four Cheese, and Turkey with Avocado & Sprouts with chipotle sauce on marbled bread.
The primary reason Barn 34 is one of my top-recommended restaurants in Ocean City, aside from its unique atmosphere, is its rotating, seasonal menu. You know you’re getting the best of the best recipes when a restaurant consistently changes its menu. For example, a daily special at Barn 34 this week is Pork Ossobuco over a bed of Mushroom Risotto. Also, a Whole Black Sea Bass served over a bed of Sweet & Sour Onions with sautéed vegetables is a special selection on the menu.
I also recommend the Surf & Turf combinations—a hand cut Filet with your choice of Crab Cake, Shrimp, or Scallops over a bed of spinach. Lumps of crabmeat are piled high within each crab cake. The Scallops are tender, and the three-Mushroom Risotto is exceptionally delicious. Mike Jr. says the Bacon Wrapped Scallops with sweet Thai chili sauce is another crowd pleaser.
My favorite appetizer at Barn 34 is the Blackened Seared Tuna. Served on homemade tortilla chips with wasabi and sweet Thai chili sauce on top of seaweed salad, perfectly seared tuna is blackened with zesty, tasty seasonings. Pinchos & Plantains is another tempting appetizer, consisting of marinated chicken skewer plantains served with dip. The 34th Street Big Dipper Dip is a concoction of corn, jalapeños, chili peppers, red pepper, melted cream cheese, Monterey Jack, and Parmesan. An array of Salads is also on the menu, including Cobb Salad—lettuce blend with turkey, ham, blue cheese, crumbled bacon, and hard-boiled egg.
As the seasons change, the breakfast menu keeps customers visiting Barn 34 in droves. Captain Crunch French Toast is a top seller. Mike Lawson, Jr., recommends any one of many Benedict recipes, such as Soft Shell Benedict and Portabella Benedict with Avocado. The M.A. Benedict is traditional Benedict on a toasted croissant with two poached eggs, sautéed spinach, and curried hollandaise sauce.
Hiram’s Special is another hearty breakfast option—Cream Chip Beef on two pancakes or waffles. Try The Beach Babe for scrambled eggs, sautéed onions, potato, red peppers, and chorizo stuffed into a flour tortilla with salsa and cheese. Or, order the Collingwood for herbed cream cheese, sautéed spinach, tomato, and thinly sliced ham served on an everything bagel.
For customers with a sweet tooth, Barn 34 offers Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast, and Breads and Pastries. Try the Sweet Potato & Pecans Pancakes, or the Nutella and Banana Waffle.
This week, Mike Lawson, Jr., kept Gina and me quite amused because he started planning our fresh, homemade desserts for us before we ordered our appetizers. "Do you prefer Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, or Apple Pie?" All three are homemade—from the sweet, warm fillings to the buttery crust.
An additional reason that I favor Barn 34 is its commitment to the community. The Lawson family procures beef from a local butcher shop, desserts from a local baker, produce from local farms, and seafood from the West Ocean City commercial fishing harbor. The Lawson family completely gutted and renovated the entire establishment during the last year. Local artists, designers, and laborers contributed to the two-level project, which has quickly become a local favorite.
Barn 34 serves food and spirits for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The new location, inside the former Christmas Spirit along Coastal Highway, makes the restaurant easy to find. Mary Anne Lawson is excited to decorate Barn 34 for the Christmas season, paying homage to the venue’s roots. Reclaimed wood, copper details, and longboards add to the rustic, beach barn ambiance at Barn 34 on 34th Street & Coastal Highway. For more information about breakfast, lunch, dinner, or nightlife at Barn 34, dial 410-289-5376.