Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Farmer's Cabinet

Jess' Take:
The Farmer’s Cabinet is a new spot in Center City Philadelphia that boasts local and responsibly raised food, which is right up my alley. From the street the restaurant is unassuming, but once you walk in the door you realize it’s really spacious. We dined on the second level, tucked in a corner, which for various reasons was probably on purpose.

To start I went for the escargot, craving a buttery, sinful started. They arrived not in their individual shells, but rather in a cast iron pot, shells already removed. The presentation was more mussels than escargot. Typically, when done right, this is one of my favorite dishes, but I found that it lost something when I wasn’t using a little fork to pull the meat from its shell. They were buttery, yes, but also salty and gritty with a briny aftertaste. The preparation was unexpected and though still tasty, not my preferred preparation method.

For my second course I decided on the sautéed skate wing, which was served with black lentils and fried green tomato fritters. The presentation was very attractive and the fish was huge. It’s rare for me not to finish my dinner, but this was one of those unusual occasions. I was happy I did though, because it was just as tasty reheated the next day. Although both the fish and the fritters were fried, it wasn’t a very heavy dish.

I’m a fan of Farmer’s Cabinet, both the concept and the food. The “local” craze has been done a bunch in the last few years and these guys got it right. 3 out of a possible 4 local farms.

Wade's Take:
Not only was the space cavernous, the menu was equally vast. This was something we haven't been accustomed to on our culinary adventures as of late. I think the menu at Koo Zee Doo had about eight items on it, total.

So I was feeling a little overwhelmed, and thankful Jess used her sway to get us some private space in the back. There are no people-watching distractions when you are in the rafters with the Phantom of the Opera.

There was a cheese plate that was forgettable, especially when compared to my lamb kidneys starter. Oh, how I love me some kidneys! Lamb kidneys were a subject of much controversy in my household growing up. My mom still cooks them on special occasions, slicing them and frying them in butter until crisp. Some in my family love them. Some gag when they are being cooked (they do smell a bit like urine). Nevertheless, I would eat them weekly if they weren't so hard to acquire.

The Farmer's Cabinet chicken-fries two large kidneys (meaning they are immensely battered then pan fried), covers them with some fried greens and a little pomegranate molasses, then buries it in a sweet potato biscuit. Forget the dry biscuit, the greens and the molasses... I pushed them to the side. The kidneys have enough flavor to stand on their own, and they should have. They couldn't compete against my Mom's variety.

My entree was a grilled elk strip loin. It was just what I was craving. Cooked medium rare, the meat was succulent and none too gamey. It was served with some sauteed wild mushrooms (very good) and mustard grain mashed potatoes. Like Jess and Dave, I was full to the brim, and unable to finish my meal. A rarity indeed, but I blame it on the series of dense and filling items on the menu.

The Farmer's Cabinet is worth a revisit. Three out of four lamb organs.