Farmer's Table New Canaan, CT?
Anyone tried this place yet? It just opened and most of its food comes from an organic farm and I'm thinking of taking my wife there for her birthday. Here's a piece about it from the local paper:
It seems I always have a different take on a lot of other foodies' opinions. Perhaps it is because I have been part of the sustainable food thing for a long time and grow my own vegetables.
I've been eating pastured meats for three years, so this probably accounts for the differences in taste.
I've been enjoying the soups and salads from Open Table for the last year, and I have yet to be disappointed.
As to John Boy's meats, I wouldn't eat anything else. I don't like the fact that I have to travel to get the meat, but it is certainly worth it. But, then again, I do my best not to eat beef fed with gmo corn, and beautiful veggies that have been sprayed with roundup.
Bumping this one up.
Ate here Friday night and we were extremely disappointed. Think we need to go do penance at Nicholas Roberts for straying from our usual BYOB haunt.
Where to begin:
As others have said, it's definitely small and cozy. Give them credit for good windows, it was nice and warm inside even on a very cold night. I think this place is a market during the day - our table was right next to a cooling display, so the constant buzz was a little annoying. The woman running the place (I assume the owner) was very nice.
Food - We each started with a soup (chowder and bean). Both soups were good, but come on, put a little garnish on it! I realize soup is pre-made, but at least do something to spice it up at service.
Mains - She got the duck with asparagus and a grain salad of some sort.. The meat was perfectly cooked, but under-salted and the sauce was in need of flavor. Presentation was lacking - everyone's plates looked like what I might serve at home - mean, starch, veg. Also, for a restaurant that seems to want to be local and farm-y, surprised that the one vegetable served with everything was asparagus. I think that season passed about 5 months ago. Greenhouse maybe?
I got the steak "tacos." I put tacos in quotations as it was basically a plate of sliced skirt steak inside of soft tacos. Maybe 1tsp of tomato and guacamole total inside all 3 tacos. The steak marinade was good, but the steak needed to be cooked on a higher heat to get some more caramelization and burn off some of the oily marinade. If you're going serve tacos at a non-Mexican restaurant, they'd better be damn good. These were not.
All in all, nothing we had was horrible, but when I am eating at a non-cheap restaurant, I expect better than that.
Did not bother with dessert - salvaged the meal at the gelato place across the street.
Delicious food locally sourced, cozy space, intimate acoustics, attentive, personal service. What's not to like? The inordinate wait for our first app. In the total scheme, a quibble, but I'll get back to that later.
Had the scrumptous pork pate from Little John's farm with thin toast, tangy mustard and greens. The entry duck breast was perflectly flavored, just a hint of game, but it was a touch overdone. My wife's mussels were second only to the wonderful Jubilee in the city, but her scallops were the hit of the night, creamy, yet meaty. The key lime pie had a cheesecake texture, its tang nicely balanced with a sweet graham crust, powdered sugar, and whipped cream.
Back to my quibble ... we waited almost a half hour for the app, which I understood because they were packed and "cooking." on a Saturday night. But could have used some of their lucious bread to nibble on as we waited, tho none was offered nor any apology proffered.. Because I was driving, didn't byob any wines, which might have made the wait pass more quickly. The entry did come a few minutes after the app...
Though tables (lots of two tops) are closely spaced, most conversations seemed private. Nora Jones singing just under the conversational hum provided a very comforting, warm sound layer on a Winter's Eve. Perfect acoustics, the brick walls absorbing the din nicely
We will return. Next time with booze. But I'll reserve two hours ... and think of it as a night.
A very nice one.
Stopped in at Gates across the street afterward because a friend was singing there. What a time warp, from 2011 back to 1985.
My husband and I went to the Farmer's Table for Valentine's Day and were blown away. The food was delicious - fresh of course - and 100% satisfying. The festive decorations were subtle yet effective; a single stemmed red rose in the center of each table, classical cherubs on the cover of the menu booklet, and the low Billie Holiday CD playing in the background came together to set the perfect mood. Bob and Lucia have done a spectacular job with their labor of love.
My husband and I are huge fans of the Farmer's Table and eat there once every two weeks. Good, healthy food prepared by thoughtful, caring chef(s) who are passionate about food and food origins. Maybe not 'gourmet' every visit, but consistent great quality at great prices, and we love to bring our own wine - a bonus for true wine lovers. And the husband/wife owners are truly nice, down-to-earth, local people we love to support. Give it a try!
Farmers Table Reply. A friend just told me about Chow Hound and I thought I would address some of the comments I read here. First of all your comments are well taken and accurate in many instances. When I decided to open Farmers Table it was nothing more than a labor of love. I have been growing my own produce for years and selling it at farmers markets. When I started baking bread I couldnt bake enough. I decided to put a roof over my head and try bringing good fresh food to more people. I wanted to have a place where people could buy the ingredients I use in my own kitchen and have as many as possible grown by my hand, in my garden. My brother is a farmer and has a herd of Berkshires and a smokehouse, raises free range birds, ducks, sells fresh eggs, and has sources for every kind of produce imaginable right down to Hand melons. He makes three kinds of bacon and he is well known for that and his Berkshire pork. See John Boys Farm or Mountainview farm. He is surrounded by other organic farmers, cheesemakers, maple syrup and some that just grow mixed greens.(More coming today!) He is in Cambridge NY now but started in Pound Ridge. I cant tell you what it looked like here with 300 chickens running around. My garden is also in Pound Ridge NY and is a lot closer than some of my Connecticut sources so is about as local as you can get. I am not certified organic but then thats another ball of wax. It doesnt mean much to me as many small producers are not certified. Face to face honesty is how all this started and when my beef guy tells me he only slaughters a few head a month and his cattle are grass fed and all natural, I belive him way more than the USDA that is allowing chemicals and people to call things organic that dont use all organic ingredients. Read about the recent organic beer from a large nationwide brewer. Lets put it this way, they have been lobbied to death and the list of allowable substances is large. My produce is grown in Pound Ridge and I also use a farm to Chef service which is nothing short of amazing with selection. They source from VT NH NY CT MA. In the beginning I intended to have a market with my produce, bread, and my brothers pork bacon eggs chickens and beef. I secured 15 seats from the town zoning board for people to sit if they chose and have a muffin or some soup. I had no idea that so many people wanted to sit down and dine. I am a chef and have been my whole life so I decided why not. My sous chef is from Table and The Bedford Post. The Bedford Post was a produce customer of mine. Anyway the menu is changing daily and I should have a more permanent version shortly with some standards but also with the ability the change quickly as ingredients become available or unavailable. As you can guess some things like avocados limes or shrimp are difficult if not impossible to find locally so I may consider other options. So there is some tweaking going on. A good example is the soup. I dont like to leave soup in a steam table or heated for long period. We add a small amount of water and heat it to order which some people might consider going too far but I am guessing the butternut might not have been as concentrated as usual. I have been overwhelmed with the response and also the kind words and well wishers that have come in just to visit. As you can also guess Farmers Table is a work in progress and I am still working out the kinks in a number of areas and there are so many things I cant wait to put out. In the meantime I have beans to be picked and too many cucumbers but it looks like tomatoes will be around for a while. Robert
Thanks for the report back John and jfood is really hoping you success. Please take the comments on Chowhound as constructive. We take our food seriously on this site. You will find many think the geneology is extremely important and others who think it is a nice to have. We are all looking forward to your working through the kinks that are normal in a new place.
thanks for the replies Robert.
For that reason I will definitely be headed to The Farmers Table as soon as I have the chance.
I'm glad I got a reply on where the food comes from--I know "organic" and "Cage free" are very loosely used, and it's a shame.
Hopefully Robert will be in when I am and I look forward to an ever-changing menu as well.
Had a nice dinner on friday night at Farmer's Table... we started with a nice cheeseplate accompanied by homemade bread and honey. very nice and very simple. then I had the pork tacos which were quite savory. my wife asked if they would make her shrimp tacos and they did, which was very nice of them since it was not on the menu. they were good, although not as tasty as mine were. they also made a good chicken quesadilla for my daughter. all in all, a pleasant evening.
when we got there there was only one other table. by the time we left, the restaurant was packed. the kitchen is a little slow, but that is my only gripe. i wish they could sell beer. would have gone nicely with my pork taco.
oh... the butternut squash soup was also quite good. nice addition and seems to be coming along nicely.
Fianlly ate at Farmer's Table and hopefully time will allow for this place to hit their potential since jfood only ate two dishes.
Butternut squash soup - this is one of jfood's favorite soups of the season and he was looking for a rich flavor as this vegetable grabs so much earthy flavor. Unfortunately the cup jfood ate did not have that wonderful depth of flavor. There was the traditional nutmeg flavor but without the richness of the squash, the nutmeg stood out versus taking a back seat. It was a fair interpretation.
Steak Taco - The version delivered to jfood included some grilled and sliced steak, tomato, avocado and lettuce all wrapped in two soft tacos. The local tomatoes were outstanding and the avocado was perfectly ripe and flavorful. The lettuce was, well, lettuce and the tacos were good. But the focus of the taco is the steak and this was not a great version. Other than one bite, it was seasonless, basically a grilled piece of Colorado beef with some lettuce, tomato and avocado on a soft taco. Once again jfood was hoping for more.
The other aspect that was curious was that the owner was not cooking, but another cook was manning the stove. Jfood scratched his head that with all the focus on a start-up, having someone other than the owner was a bit strange.
Jfood really hopes this place gets it's legs under them. With a very limited menu they really have to hit the ball out of the park on each dish.
My wife picked up some food to go last night. We got the shrimp salad which was decent. the lime dressing was nice, the tomatos and avocado were very good and the shrimp were ok, but nothing great. We also got the steak tacos and Jfood's write up on them is on the nose. the steak is underseasoned and the whole taco needed a little kick of some sort. If the restaurant is going to offer mexican dishes, perhaps they could make their own hot salsa/sauce. It just needed something else. also, for $9 for two tacos, perhaps they could offer a small side with it.
the one major complain we have is the beet salad, which had a ton of onions in it. the onions completely dominated the flavor and you could barely taste the beets. not sure if they are stored together or pre-mixed, but a beet salad should taste like beets, not primarily onions.
The fresh baked bread was good.
I look forward to trying this place again. I'll give it some time to get going. It's a nice addition to town. I'm sure it will get better with time.
I have not tried the food here so I can't comment on that.
But I will bring up the point that shrimp is most likely NOT local or sustainable. I'm all for the locavore movement but are they really using local produce/meats/fish?
This isn't really a criticism...more a question if they source from CT farms. Anyone know?
If they're using Stonington Red shrimp, they're kind of local - depends on what your criteria is. For some people, local is a 50-mile radius; for others, it's originating from the state; still others, it's originating from the USA (ie, not imported).
I get Stonington Reds (and other fish) from a fishmonger with docks in East Haven and Stonington; I get lobsters, clams and oysters from a family in Branford. There's Westport Aquaculture, who do clams, oysters, and I'm not sure what if anything else. Connecticut-grown beef, pork, and poultry is becoming less and less of a novelty; I used to feel lucky if I could buy meat from a local source, and now I have a handful of farmers from whom to buy.
In fact, I ate at Carole Peck's last week, and she lists all her local sources in her menu; it's a pretty long list, but some of her providers are in NY state and Mass. But I was pretty excited to see that she and I share at least one vendor, SunOne - http://www.localharvest.org/sun-one-o...
Until the decrepit Patricia Brook's reviewed the place, their primary audience was coming from a Farmer's Market in New York, where they sold their mediocre soups and half-hearted breads piggybacked with "JOHN BOY's" so-called sustainable and local New York State raised and bred beef, chicken, turkey, ham, bacon, etc., etc. an unbelievable array of produce for a one-man operation... at prices that would literally stagger an ox.
The locals in Pound Ridge tend to do their buying there on Sunday Mornings, since money and price is not an issue.
Tucked into a tiny corner of the John Boy Meat Market Bazaar, his devoted brother Bob and Bob's incredibly antagonistic wife bully people into buying their watery soups at $12/qt and their two-day old bread at $14/loaf.
They do NOT, however, sell their wares in the much larger New Canaan Farmer's Market, as New York State produce is specifically excluded from CT Farmer's Markets. John Boys meats hgowever, are mentioned slavishy in every possible review of the farmer's Table EXCEPT the New York Times. John Boy, however, is a media institution, and is the Mick Jagger of American butcher's.... he provides his brother with all his produce.
to call this place "FARMER's TABLE" is the approximate equivalent of American Express calling its rewards points "Social Capital", as it ties into SOCIAL MEDIA, for no other purpose than to be au courant.
"FARMER's MARKET" is an incredibly trendy moniker that pushes every feel-good button..
green, recycled, save the poor farmer, sustain the cows.. whatever nonsense the Corn growers Pubic Relations agency foists on the public to sell more plant based packaging materials,,,
Farmer's Table has nothing to do with farmers, sustainable agriculture, or CT Produce. Its a restaurant that buys its produce and meat products from a single source in another state.
You wnat sustainable and local, try Schoolhouse in Cannondale, if you can get in... The Chef owns two farms in CT and his stuff is SO fresh, it literally walks to table.,
It's only a restaurant, it is NOT a farmer's market.
Jfood spoke to the owner and his wife as they were building out. Great couple and extremely nice. Not a lot of room for seating to manage your expectations.
Although he has not eaten there yet, here is an idea of one of the menus from last week's lunch:
Soups ($5-8) - butternut squash; Seafood Chowder
Apps($7-10) - Market Greens; Beet Salad; Artisinal Cheese (from Plum Plums)
Entree Salads ($9-13) - Baby Spinach; Grilled Shrimp; Warm Market (can add chicken, skirt, shrimp or portabellas)
Entrees ($9-16) - Pork tacos; Cheeseburger; Chicken Qusadilla; John Boys Chicken; Grilled NY Strip
jfood got crucified by another spot in town for reviewing during it's first week of operation, and he still stands by his original comments.
On this one he is waiting for next week to wander in for a meal. And with respect to your "nailed it" comment on the Patch article, it is a nice puff piece on the background. There is not one word mentioned on the food.