Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It was only another week before the "Opening Soon" signs were replaced with "We're Open!" signs. So I immediately called my friend Tiffany (who, if you haven't noticed yet, is now my go-to person for all foodie-related excursions in Calgary) to set a date to check the place out. We brought along our friend Adam, who brought his new girlfriend Jenn.
Farm is owned by Janice Beaton, who also owns Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, which just opened a branch right behind Farm, and also has her finger in Caffe Beano, a mod little coffee shop in the same building as the aforementioned establishments. (Thanks John Gilchrist!) You can definitely see Janice's hand in the menu, as it features dishes like goat cheese fritters, mac & cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and "cutting boards", where you get to choose various cheeses and meats served with a sliced baguette to have a bistro-style meal.
The fact that Farm doesn't take reservations for groups less than 8 was a bit of a bummer because the place was bustling with activity on Saturday night even though we tried to arrive early. The kind hostess told us the wait would only be "15 minutes", but we probably had to wait closer to 45 minutes before we were seated at the bar next to the open kitchen.
These made for great seats as every once in a while you'd look up and see a chef tossing a salad with her hands, pulling some fresh baked cookies out of the oven, or slicing some meat using the big meat slicer. The kitchen itself was very modern and sleek looking, and I thought the fact that they served condiments in little sake cup-like dishes was a cute touch. Despite the modern kitchen, the global theme at Farm is "rustic". The menu is simple, with the daily specials (soup, small main, salad, and a "pairing whimsy") written in chalk on one of the walls. There are simple, antique-looking pieces in the tiny space and one of the tables celebrating a birthday got a cake decorated with fresh flowers. The hostess kept on dimming the lights though, which made for pretty crappy photos.
The four of us decided to split a cutting board appetizer and a bottle of wine, then get our own mains. I decided to splurge and get the soup as well, because seriously, who can resist curried apple and squash with toasted pumpkin seeds?
The soup was really good; nice and thick with a generous dollop of sour cream. There could have been more curry flavour, but I appreciated that it didn't overpower the sweetness of the apple and squash. The pumpkin seeds were (obviously) a fantastic touch.
We had a bit of trouble deciding what we wanted on our cutting board; for a while we'd only progressed as far as no blue cheese (Tiffany doesn't like it, and neither do I, really) and no goat/sheep cheeses if possible (I'm not a fan.) Finally Adam, an Italophile, told us that Piave, a hard Italian cheese was good, and that it would pair really well with prosciutto. (We also ended up sharing a bottle of 2003 Taurino Salice Salentino, a negroamaro from Italy, was nice and mild, and quite good for being the cheapest red wine on the menu.) Jenn then stepped up and she'd be up for trying the venison salami, and I checked off the brie as a safe choice that everyone would be familiar with and liked. I noticed on the list too that there were peppercorn terrines and rabbit terrines from La Maison du Gibier, which I swore was at Marché Atwater (they do have a seller there, plus a few at Marché Jean-Talon), which made me reminisce about Montreal a little. *sniff*
All of the meat and cheese came in nice little portions, each paired with its own condiment. The server was nice enough to point out what everything was. Everything on the board that I tried was good; the piave was a nice, milder version of parmesan, the prosciutto and venison salami were good (though nothing really made the latter stand out as venison) and the brie was nice and creamy. I really loved the golden beet relish as it brought out the sweetness of the beets. The pickles looked intriguing, but they were kind of out of my reach before I could get to them, and of course, I do not like olives.
I thoroughly enjoyed my braised Devliew(?) lamb shoulder, which was very tender (though the aspiring dietitian in me was just a little turned off by how fatty it was). I had hoped to dip my baguette into the sauce, but I quickly found out it was too salty for me to do that. I had also hoped I would get more horseradish too, although the server did mention that I could ask for more, so it was my fault, really. Adam and Jenn were satisfied with their mac & cheeses and Tiffany seemed to enjoy her salad.
While Chowhounders have complained about the portion sizes in the past, I personally appreciated the size of the portions (there's that aspiring dietitian again!) and filled up on everything I ate. The dessert menus were cutely typed out on index cards (there was a crème brûlée, some other dessert, and $5 for 5 freshly baked cookies), but we were too full (and our wallets were emptying a little too quickly) for any. I hope like their other menus the desserts will be rotating too.
I would definitely love to go back because even though their menu *looks* tiny, I feel like there's going to be a new thing to try every time. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to take a photo of that chef working the meat slicer!
1006 17 Ave SW