Farm Bloomington (Indiana)?
- MercerChow Oct 10, 2007 03:39 PM
I have a couple of evenings in Bloomington coming up. Will try for Tallent for one of them, but what about this new place Farm Bloomington? It was mentioned in the NY Times as opening 10/1. Did it open? If so, has anyone tried it yet?
I currently live in Bloomington, IN. I have heard of Tallent, heard it is good, but have never been. They recently changed locations within the last year. I have never heard of Farm Bloomington! I will have to investigate that. BUT, one place you must look into is Scholar's Inn. Type Scholar's Inn Bloomington into a search engine and you will find it....I believe they call it a wine cafe as well, but it is a restaurant. (Don't confuse it with "Scholar's Inn Bakehouse", which is sort of local Panera-esqe place owned by the same people). Scholar's Inn is fantastic, I go there whenever I want a great dining experience.
FARM will not be opened til around December. No date set yet, though the official opening of the whole place will be in January. Extensive renovations were required on the building and it’s taken longer than estimated. The chef is just great and we are looking forward to it.
Do NOT miss Tallent when you come. It’s the best in this state, in my opinion (yes, I know there is an unhappy customer who will reliably chime in with her “full report” but there are many more happy customers, believe me!) There is a fine bar menu there for lighter fare (the moules frites are tops) and the new fall menu (available on line) is really exciting.
I have not been to Scholars since the new chef has been there but I have not been a fan in the past. The last time I was there they garnished my dish with a huge branch of rosemary stuck through it and I thought, okay, enough of that! Perhaps it is better now.
If you are looking for a casual meal one night, Trulli Flatbread (on Kirkwood Avenue) is very good. Great soups, excellent flatbread (which is pretty much pizza, but with fresh local ingredients as toppings and not necessarily red sauce and cheese.) Also good for a casual night out is tutto bene on S. Rogers. Wonderful space, good snacky type food, entertainment.
I don't know what you are looking for, but I should also mention that we do some excellent ethnic down here. Samira (on the Square) is good Afghan. Jit's Thai Cafe (on the west side -- 3316 West 3rd) is new and very good (though if it's crowded, which it usually isn't, there can be service issues.) I had a very good Burmese meal at Mandalay Restaurant on 4th St the other night. Irish Lion is decent pub grub. Avoid Italian and Chinese, though.
There is a Dining Guide at the Bloom Magazine site (full disclosure -- I wrote it) that you can access for more suggestions. It lists most restaurants in town and does not rate them but the positive remarks are my own, not advertisers. http://magbloom.com/diningguide.html
To tie out this thread I did have a meal at Tallent but didn't have a chance to eat anywhere else in Bloomington. Tallent was quite good, however.
I walked in without a reservation at 6:00 on a weekend evening and so had to eat at the bar, which was not a problem as they serve the full menu there. Ordered a bottle of the 2005 Pasanau Priorat (Spanish), which I highly recommend. The wine list is organized by price points (in $10 increments), which is something I wish more places did.
They brought out an amuse-gueule of Israeli couscous (the big kind) with a kalamata olive vinaigrette. Off to a good start.
Started with the foie gras, which I gather is a different preparation each night. Mine was seared and laid upon a slab of dark bread atop a smear of fig paste and surrounded by 25-year-old balsamic (see photo). Excellent, although I prefer the foie gras cooked just a wee bit more.
I then had the vegetable (Farmers' Market) entree which also changes nightly. This was skordalia dumplings over spaghetti squash with some roasted beets and a smattering of leeks and fennel (see photo). The overall dish was nice but I was disappointed with the dumplings. When I think of skordalia I think of GARLIC, and there was virtually no garlic in this, mostly just potato flavor.
I ended with a nice cheese plate (see photo) - a soft cow's milk from Wisconsin, an aged cheddar from California, and a Roquefort style from the Hudson Valley - and a glass of the Mer Soleil late harvest viognier, which is outstanding.
They brought out a nice little shortbread style cookie with the bill, a nice touch.
Farm is experiencing construction delays. We hope for a December opening. In the meantime, check out chef Matt O'Neill's Jazz at the Station. My husband and I ate there last night for the first time and had an outstanding meal. Tallent earns major kudos for supporting local growers and trying to introduce local diners to tastes that might not be squarely in their comfort zones. I strongly disagree about Scholar's Inn: Our last two meals there have been incredibly awful. I find the Bakehouse, on the other hand, to be a nice place for lunch.
Saw the storefront--it looked interesting, but it wasn't open yet. Tried Uptown Cafe (listed as MIchael's Uptown Cafe in the Yellow Pages)--was pretty good. Great service Malibu Grill is dependable. The Bakehouse has some great baked goods and good sandwiches although they need to work on their customer service--the kitchencould not handle IU's Parents' Weekend "rush," and we waited way too long for our food. Pretty slim pickins there in B-Town. Looking forward to Farm Bloomington next Parents' Weekend.
My husband went to Farm and said that while in principle it is great to have such local foods, etc., it was over prices, small portions, and they tried to be "fancy" which did not fit with the menu. I think it is worth a try, but it was not all that he thought it would be. Also, limited vegetarian items....
I think Bloomington has some great restaurants and I'm from DC with lots of good choices. I took my daughter to Farm a few days ago and we loved it. The parmesan garlic fries were great- a little salty- but great. I had a roasted chicken that was delicious and she had one of the Farm pies. A great addition to the wealth of restaurants in the area. I will agree that Tallent is excellent for a special dinner and Uptown is particularly good for breakfast.