after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

The Farmers’ Cabinet Identity Crisis

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g says: m and n invited us and two other couples to try out the new and fairly well-received gastropub in center city, The Farmers’ Cabinet. I hadn’t heard much about it, but my impression was that this place has interesting, old-fashioned drinks and supposedly great food. The menu looked promising for a rainy Sunday evening dinner, so off we went (umbrellas in hand).

8/2011, Sunday 7pm, party of 8: The atmosphere in this place is actually pretty cool, albeit a little disorienting. There are two bars, and a separate dining area with one super long table bisecting the space, benches on each side. I wondered how servers dealt with this, as they could not reach diners on the opposite side of the table unless they walked to the end of the long table — which is essentially walking all the way to the other side of the room.

Our server, while friendly, was a bit odd. As he explained the drink menu to us, his mind seemed to wander to the point where he forgot what he was saying midway through. This happened 2-3 times before he finished going through the menu with us.

Now, to be clear, the drink menu is overwhelmingly extensive. No wonder our server got lost in it. Cocktails can be prepared with the alcohol of your choosing, which I found a little unappealing. (How good could the drink be if it wasn’t meticulously paired with the rest of its ingredients? People look at menus to choose something someone else has already done the research on —  if we wanted to choose what goes into our drinks, we would order it that way.) Also, all of the cocktails sounded very similar to one another, which makes me feel like they need to diversify their offerings (citrus or lemon, sugar, bitters, etc.). They have beers from all over the world, and a decent number of them. While this is nice, our fellow diners had a difficult time choosing from the over-assortment, and ended up asking the server for a recommendation anyway.

In my opinion, a menu should be a curated show of the best assortment that the restaurant has to offer — something to accommodate varying tastes, all while staying true to the concept of the restaurant. The Famers’ Cabinet has trouble in this area, and could definitely benefit from a lesson in the art of the edit, as this is what makes a place unique.

We ordered our drinks — most everyone found an interesting beer to suit them, while n and I ordered punch and a cocktail, respectively. The beer came out a good 10-15 minutes before our drinks hit the table, which I chalked up to a service kink to be worked out in such a new place.

On to the food! Our table ordered a nice variety of dishes from pork belly bbq sandwiches to mushroom crepes. The general consensus: mushroom crepes were the best thing on the table.  t didn’t get a picture of it because someone else at the table had ordered it and he didn’t want to be so forward as to snap a pic while she was actively eating.  Here’s the rest with the goods, bads, and uglies.

– pretzels: pretty good, but not great – not particularly soft on the inside.

t's pork belly sandwich

– pork belly: way too much bread, which actually overpowered the pork (t interjects: of course, they could have just had more pork – you can barely see it through the slaw!)

g's and n's burger with bacon jam

– burger: the meat was dry, the bacon jam a gross consistency (and just not pretty), too much bread, not enough cheese

m's blurry chicken

– chicken: chicken was good, but creamed spinach too mushy

t's beef tongue charcuterie

– beef tongue: surprisingly lacking in big beefy flavor like you’d expect from tongue, but good texture

– cheese fondue (not pictured): tasted like cheez whiz (that’s a bad thing)

individually wrapped chocolates

– complimentary chocolates at the end: truly delicious — great job there (t stole other people’s chocolates … he’s like a 4-year-old)

The chocolates arrived at our table in a cigar box, which also housed our check. This would have been clever if the box were smaller to more appropriately fit its contents… and if it had ANYTHING to do with whatever this restaurant’s concept is.

Another note of randomness: everything is served on a slab of slate — but why? They didn’t serve a purpose, and plates without edges are generally difficult to serve, eat from, and clear. It just didn’t make sense from any perspective I could see. So frustrating.

Maybe m said it best …

m chimes in: it’s like they took all the trends in food right now and tried to incorporate them all into one place. (baking own breads, tons of beers, farm-to-table/organic, prohibition era drinks)

g says:  Although most of the people I ate with tonight were doctors, you didn’t need to be one to diagnose this place’s multiple personality disorder.  It needs someone to go in there and make some creative decisions — they can’t be everything for everyone, and they shouldn’t be.  If TFC focused on fewer personalities, the food and drinks they do offer might be better.

t says:  I think it’s now named “dissociative identity disorder” – but tomato, tomato, potato, potato.  I would offer my services as a creative consultant if they paid me in those individually wrapped chocolates …  I don’t know if I’d do a good job, but what’d they expect?  They paid me in chocolates!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

30 August 2011 at 9:57pm

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