Forks are generally advisable for most plates that come out of the kitchen at Barker & Sons, Ross Noyes’ dining pop-up, which has spent the last year working out of TV Eye, a Ridgewood indie club of slowly increasing renown. (In recent months, the club has had Yo La Tengo, Matt & Kim and other well-known groups pass through.)
The voluminous club is a black cube bunker that’s built out of a shuttered textile mill, which had spent the past decade operating as an outpost of the Redeemer Christian Church.
Noyes operates out of what was once the mill’s truck loading dock, which has since seen transformation into an elegant, covert wood-lined patio, illuminated on most nights by Christmas lights that hang precariously on the branches of the young trees that grow in the pavement.
Crowds reliably follow the rush of whatever band is playing in the ballroom, but little is slapdash about Noyes’ devotion to making his tacos, which, with their double-layered brims, fit in your hand like a tasty glove. The colors garble the mind; the deep pinks of pickled cabbage, neon greens of tomatillo. They are not so much the kind of tacos you get on a small plastic plate from a cart at 1 a.m., but they speak the language from a distance.
Noyes is a workman-like dealer of circumstance, a former punk from Boston who was in many of the same bands as fellow bar pop-up scenester Fernando Strohmeyer. After landing a gig teaching at a music school for children in Brooklyn, Noyes turned to manning rooftop barbeque pits as a hobby. Circumstance later forced him to give up the pits for the grill.
“I had a meeting with the fire department about the logistics of smoking legitimately and it was a million dollars, at least,” he said.
His menu then turned to Tex-Mex fare, following a successful run “catering this kid’s birthday party.”
This gives his inventions strange profundity. The nachos, for example, are a dinner’s worth of copper-colored tortillas, fried on the spot and sitting under a sticky stew of melted cheese, cabbage and black beans. Pull it apart and eat it over a long half-hour on the hazily arranged park benches.
“The hint of the brown sugar in there brings out some otherwise untasted flavor,” Noyes told me. It’s a nod to his past as an illicit rooftop pitmaster. The influence hangs over his work at Barker & Sons, whose name, he said, he took in honor of a close friend who died tragically around the time he started and whose father was also in the grilling business.
Other motifs of Noyes’ work include ample helpings of truffle oil, which goes on just about anything — “I kind of like the depth it gives stuff,” he said.
The jalapeño poppers are hugged by bacon that’s just a little sweet. Pink salt glitters over his fries like hidden jewels.
His one-man Barker & Sons operation landed the gig at TV Eye after having the chance to make a dinner for Jonathan Toubin, a DJ who had been among the consortium of Bushwick music scene regulars behind the club. Now, the business has expanded, and Noyes is still living by the moment.
“It’s all happenstance and chaos, I’m not a methodical person at all.”
Barker & Sons is located at TV Eye at 1647 Weirfield St in Ridgewood. Catch their menu on Instagram.
Featured image: Andrew Karpan
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