Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bloody Good - An Early Look at The Farm and The Fisherman BYOB

Lately the concept of farm-to-table has been in full swing in the restaurant-o-sphere in Philly - Talula's Garden in the latest in a cavalcade of farm-to-table concepts.When it comes to the The Farm and The Fisherman, a BYOB located on the 1100 block of Pine in the space formerly occupied by Paul, the name is more than just a casual nod to convention.

We had late reservations on a busy Friday and even thought the week-old restaurant still exhibited some of the opening 'jitters' you would expect, we were impressed with the warmth and friendliness of the place.
The menu that was announced during their opening had already undergone some substitutions and revamping. Gone were two of the dishes that I had looked forward to most - a Lamb Sirloin & Neck dish and a sunchoke & lobster knuckle soup. There were still lots of seasonal offerings spread across the three sections (Appetizer, Mid-Plate, Entree).

Fresh Warm Rolls and Housemade Butter

Although the service was holding up admirably for an opening, there were a few noticeable gap. However we were plied us with some delicious, flaky and just-from-the-oven warmed rolls while we settled in, a real treat.

Pancetta Wrapped Egg with Russian Kale & Mushrooms
This was my favorite dish of the night, a Pancetta-Wrapper Egg served over Russian Kale with bits of pancetta and mushrooms flavoring the sauteed greens. Kind of a brunchy dish, but very delicious and gooey with lots of savory elements to soak up the sauce.

Bloody Beet-Steak - split, smashed and sauteed crispy in pan-drippings
This was the most cleverly simple dish of the evening - a smashed beet that was sauteed in pan drippings. The beet's skin crunchy and rich, similar to a baked potato...and to think I've been peeling these things all along. The richness of the drippings transformed the earthy sweetness of the beet into a satisfyingly 'meaty' dish.

Roasted Celery Heart, Creamed Rice Grits w/Parsley and Roasted Red Quinoa
Elizabeth giggled when this plate hit the table. "An over-sized kiwi fruit exploded on the plate!", was how she summed up this dish's look.  We had ordered it because the thought of roasting a celery heart whole seemed like some sort of vegetarian homage to offal, sort of a nose-to-tail approach to the part of celery that usually gets trimmed away or under-utilized.  The creamed rice was flecked with toasted quinoa which gave each bite some textural interest.

Pig Ear Salad w/ pine-nuts & sherry vinegar
Speaking of offal, the Pig Ear salad was an odd mix of elements - the ears were somewhat tender but piled on to the point that the overall chewiness of the ear took over all of the more delicate elements of the salad.

Sweet & Sour Pork Belly w/raisins & celery root
I think I've been affected from the excess of crispier lacquered preparations of pork belly that I've been having lately - I found the softer braised belly somewhat lacking in flavor and rather flat...perhaps the sweet & sour flavors were too much, but it seemed like the melted belly fat disappeared under the whammy of raisin & vinegar.

It's been about a month since we dined there and I after scanning the latest menu I see lots of changes. The fact that the beet steak is still on the menu confirms that the things we really enjoyed are a hit and, while seasonal, hopefully will be on the menu for a little longer.

Overall we really enjoyed the Farm & Fisherman's approach and clearly the more creative ingredients signal that there is plenty of worth checking out here. Add to the fact it's a BYOB and the service was excellent, Farm and the Fisherman will keep us coming back for a taste of the seasons.

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