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Urban Country Farm Stand in El Segundo-Review (long)

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AstoriaRon Jun 25, 2006 03:14 PM

This place just opened this week on Main St. across from Chef Hannes, making this spot a veritable culinary mecca by local standards. Anyway my wife and I gave it a shot last night.
First you are struck by how "open" the design of the place is. Huge window in front covers almost the entire face of the building. Large windows on each side, including between the inside and outside dining rooms. Finally the kitchen in back is on full view for diners, judge for yourself how you like that touch. Room for about 50 inside and 30 outside, outside looked very charming but it was a cool evening. The walls were decorated with bright color, simple photographs. The whole place had the very simple country, but not kitschy feel.
Service, as you would expect in a brand new restaurant's first Saturday, was a tad discombobulated but certainly eager and friendly. A woman who seemed like an owner welcomed us and twice asked if we were enjoying everything. On to the chow...
Menu had about 5 appetizers, 3 salads, 2 stews, 6 pastas (made on premesis), and 8 meat/fish entrees. As the name of the restaurant would indicate, they seem to be trying to bring an unfussy country style to our little burg. We had a baked brie with apples and walnuts for an appetizer. The bread all night seemed to be a little off. The bread with the brie was under-toasted. The bread on the table was too crunchy. So we just used the table bread with the Brie. Worked out perfectly.
Wine list had about 15 reds, 15 whites between 25-50 dollars. Also 8 wines by the glass. Some decent but not spectacular choices.
For an entree my wife has the Chicken/Pomegranate/Walnut stew, which was served over rice. She looooved it. I had the lasagna, which as promised, was unlike any I have ever had (just spent 30 years living in NYC). A compact brick, the lasagna was unbelievable tasty, with little morsels of meat, vegetable and perfectly cooked pasta in every bite. I purposely did not finish so I could have an amazing lunch today.
When I commented to the waitress how a number of items on the menu (pumpkin ravioli, butternut squash soup) seemed very seasonal, as in fall/wintery, she responded, "this is california, everything is always in season. Indeed...
Desserts were simple, we had the molten chocolate cake for 2. Unspectacular but solid.
Entrees were between 10-16 dollars, apps 6-9. I noticed other tables getting yummy looking dips (hummus, roasted onion/eggpant, and I think tzatziki) with triangles of pita. These looked fun for groups. Many of the dishes came with parmesan fries which I must try soon.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed. If you are in the beach cities, please come and support our nascent fine dining culture in El Segundo. If you are a local, you have no excuse, get your butt down there for simple, yet elegant home cooked comfort food.

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    ElissaInPlaya Jun 27, 2006 05:18 PM

    Thanks for the review Astoria. I've been watching the space for about a month now. What was your final tab (with or w/o alcohol?) And, how heavy was the on the nuts; could my allergic spouse avoid them if he tried?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ElissaInPlaya
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      AstoriaRon Jun 27, 2006 08:20 PM

      elissa, final tab was about 50 without (including dessert), and we got a 25 dollar bottle of penfolds shiraz. plenty of stuff without any nuts, most of the main courses did not have nuts... it was mostly the salads, and a few of the apps.

    2. z
      zouri Jul 1, 2006 07:53 AM

      We just tried this place for the first time tonight and were quite impressed with the food. The eggplant-carmelized onion dip was excellent, and I had the lamb shank on lima beans and basmati rice seasoned with saffron and dill which was also fantastic. Our bill (no wine or dessert) was $39. I would definitely go back.

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        MarkofMB Jul 7, 2006 06:44 PM

        Nice review - very thorough. Thanks for scoping this out - we've been looking at Farmstand as they were creating it. Understand that the owner comes from a South Bay restaurant family (Cafe Pierre). The restaurant scene in El Seg is definitely picking up.
        One other question on Farmstand for you. Do you know if they have a corkage fee? Also, how large was the crowd the night you dined?

        1 Reply
        1. re: MarkofMB
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          CoolJ Aug 18, 2006 06:44 PM

          We went last night and the corkage fee was $10! Hello! We're in the South Bay and it's El Segudno for Pete's sake!
          The crowd was large but dwindled around 8:30pm.
          The service was fairly poor- forgot we ordered soup. Even the owner forgot to bring the bread we asked for but she did bring out a couple of desserts as a thank you so that made it better. I was quite impressed with the fact that the food was such high quality. The chicken in the pomegranate stew was all white meat with zero fat. You can't beat that! I also loved the presentation of the food and the way the restaurant was decorated. There is a lovely back patio. I'll be going there again this week because it was so good. Skip the desserts though- not the greatest.

        2. s
          Signora Sep 8, 2006 03:33 PM

          We've eaten here twice and had mixed experiences. They seem to be still working out the kinks. Service ranges from attentive to "remember us?" It is being operated by "Gaby," the daughter of the owner of Cafe Pierre's in Manhattan Beach. In fact, her dad was there one of the nights we dined mingling with the guests. I enjoyed their mideast dish, the ground chicken kabob. The rice was a winner with raisins and dates incorporated into it. My husband enjoyed the chef's special vegetable soup. We still have our fingers crossed.

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            Dundie Dec 15, 2006 05:03 PM

            Do you know if they have a lunch menu?

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              Signora Dec 17, 2006 08:11 PM

              Yes, they are now open for lunch and their menu is posted at their website: http://www.farmstand.us/

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                Dundie Jan 29, 2007 11:27 AM

                If you go, try their eggplant and hummus dips to start. They are both fantastic and portions are generous. By far the best entree I've had is the chicken, walnut, pomegranate stew. BTW, I was disappointed with the lasagna, which I found to be very standard. Desserts were ok. HUGE chocolate lava cake was good, but not special. However, the apple crisp was blah.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Dundie
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                  CoolJ Jun 28, 2007 07:22 AM

                  Our local mother's group tried it Farmstand again. We had the SAME problem again- horrible wait staff. From the moment we sat down the server had a poor attitude. It took twenty minutes to get a second beer and several people had to ask for their food twice. Although the appetizers are great, the desserts are still not quite up to par. I wanted to help them out by having our monthly meeting there a second time. I will not plan an event over four people there- apparently they don't like large groups.

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