Aug 3, 2009

Take Me to the Farm

It's funny: I grew up in a small-ish town a couple hours west of Kansas City where everyone hoped dearly for a chain like Olive Garden to move in. Fantastic fresh food was being grown locally all around us, and yet we thought we wanted frozen bread sticks with overcooked noodles walloowing in enough alfredo to render one's arteries useless.

Now, living in the heart of KC, I find that the most exciting new restaurants are the ones featuring the freshest, locally sourced foods, like The Westside Local (see below review), and a new restaurant at 300 Delaware in the River Market called
The Farmhouse, featuring a lot of fresh, locally grown/raised items.

I had lunch at The Farmhouse yesterday after learning of its existence only a few days prior. That's how excited I was about this farm thing. I think part of the allure is that when the weather gets hot, things like crisp, cold vegetables and salads - fresh, lighter fare - just sound much more appealing than the braised, stewed, slow-cooked, heavy comfort foods of winter.

The dining room felt a little small, but has nice high ceilings, typical of the old lofts in that neighborhood. Simple decor and pretty polished hardwood floors. The host was chipper and promptly showed us to a comfortable table on the shady deck big enough for four, but small enough for the two of us. The two female servers working the deck area were both wearing skirts and cowboy boots. Not sure if that was part of the uniform for the day, but it was pretty cool! I say yay on the boots.

The food: for me, 3 pulled pork sliders with a peach-dijon aioli, home made fries and a small side of pepperoncinni slaw. Delicious and note - these are not barbecue sliders. They had a very nice fruity flavor - was there a cherry spread smeared on the buns, not listed on the menu? And if you like you're barbecued pulled pork done Carolina Style, put the relish in the bun, too. It's a great added crunch. The pork itself was cooked well, but seemed a little dry and cool. I don't think it was overcooked at all, just seemed like once it was pulled, it sat in a container "draining" for a while before being served, so it lost some of its natural juiciness. The fries were good, but not great. They were a little soggy and perhaps needed more time in the fryer.

For her: an heirloom tomato salad with fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, tiny fried strings of prosciutto and leeks and a port-black pepper reduction (note - we ordered having specified ahead of time that we would split the plates 50/50). While I believe the reduction was completely absent from the dish, I found myself not even caring, because the heirloom tomatoes were left as the star of the show and they were sublime. Small piles of black salt crystals laid on each of the 4 corners of the rounded, rectangular plate for us to pinch and apply as desired, and that was all the tomatoes needed to shine. The mozzarella provided the intended girth to the dish but didn't add a lot. Still, I'm glad it was there.

Prices are right where you'd expect - sandwiches are in the $7 to $8 range, salads slightly less. I think this is going to be one of those places where I'll return often, checking one delicious item off the list after another.

I heard on the Today show this morning that Chili's buffalo chicken crisper bites have 1620 calories and 100 grams of fat. And you can bet the chicken is pre-breaded, seasoned and fried before it ever reaches a restaurant. Not exactly sure when my palette evolved past the point of craving steriod-laden schwarzenpatties of fried chicken breast smothered in ranch dressing to fantasizing over Brandywines and Green Zebras, but I'm glad it did. Check this place out sometime soon.

Rating - two napkins

The Farmhouse on Urbanspoon

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