Oh, Farm. I’ve wanted to go to Janice Beaton’s jewel of a restaurant for so long that I almost can’t believe it’s only a year old.
Beaton is a noted Calgary-based cheesemaker who ran a successful cheese and charcuterie shop in Kensington for year. She decided to close the shop recently to focus on Farm, and though I only have one experience to base it on, I’m excited to see Beaton take an already wonderfully-executed concept to the next level.
A twenty-minute trek on foot from our hotel brought us to the bustling interior of Farm, a tiny storefront that is very easily missed. We joined a small line of about eight individuals, and were told that our wait would be no longer than twenty minutes. As we inched closer to the front of the line, we were amazed that each new server we encountered stopped to greet us and ask if we had been taken care of already. This, coupled with the option to order wine to accompany our wait, were small but appreciated gestures of welcome that helped set the warm tone for the evening.
We surveyed the décor as we sipped our wine – people were packed into Farm like the best kind of restaurants, in a get-to-know-your-neighbour kind of way. To that effect, Farm even has a communal table lit with two funky chandeliers, and though we didn’t mind our Founding Farmers dinner with shared seating, we were happy to have been treated to a more intimate affair that night.
I loved their exposed kitchen (complete with counter seating), the colourful chalkboard on the back wall declaring their ever-changing specials, and the carpe diem quotation that met patrons upon entry: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” It was a sign that we should make the most of our visit. And we would.
Mack at Farm
One of Farm’s celebrated menu features are their cheese and charcuterie offerings. Going beyond a baguette-pairing though, the kitchen also pairs each selection with a special accoutrement. We were both feeling pretty starved, so decided on five selections ($25), and leaned on our expert server for guidance. He added to our choice of 3 year old cheddar and Valbella prosciutto with recommendations of double-cream brie, and bunderfleisch and venison salami also from Valbella.
The platter was beautifully put together, with each of the meats artfully arranged into vertical towers. Our server explained each of the pairings, some of them which seemed offbeat at first encounter: pickles with the bunderfleisch, mustard with the salami. We felt a bit like Ratatouille’s Remy in the scene when he experiments with taste and flavour combinations, particularly when we found our favourite – aged cheddar with grape jelly. While it seems strange, the initial sweetness gave way to the salty burst of the cheese, a perfect pairing. The prosciutto was another favourite, though sans the olive accompaniment, at least for me. The bunderfleisch was new to both of us, but had a rich flavour and texture that stood up well against the sharpness of the cheddar.
Cheese and Charcuterie Platter
We were a bit afraid our entrees, ordered up front, would be delivered while we were still making our way through adult cheese and crackers. But we should have given more credit to the restaurant, which expertly timed everything, and we needn’t have worried.
Our stomachs were ready for Farm’s comfort-food mains, which, as Andree wrote about last week, are meant to be shared. The Spring Creek Ranch short rib ($18) was fall-apart tender, and melted in our mouths. The creamy celery root puree was lovely as well, a nice change from the usual potato mash. I just wish there had been more of it!
Spring Creek Ranch Short Rib with Celery Root Puree and Roasted Beets
Mack’s choice of spicy mac and cheese ($10 for a small) was a winner – the nutty, crunchy breadcrumb topping made the dish for me alone. The sauce was also of a perfect consistency – neither runny or too stiff, with the addition of spice a welcome twist (counterbalanced by the side of sweet pickles). The size of the dish was an indication of how rich it was, and though Mack probably wanted to eat two portions, we were glad to have the short rib to balance it out.
Janice’s Mac ‘n Cheese
Our server was excellent, and provided some of the best service that I have had in a while. He was personable, good humored, and knowledgeable. And it was his concession that ultimately pushed us to order from the dessert menu – he offered to warm the chocolate chip cookies (5 for $5) for us.
Imagine capping off your comforting meal with homemade cookies – it was a revelation. Paired with a cup of strong Fratello coffee (locally-roasted, of course), we couldn’t have been happier. Even if they weren’t the best cookies I ever had (I would have preferred them to be sweeter), the fact that they were warm, and available at a full-service restaurant, was the icing on our proverbial cake.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Before we left, we took a moment to explore the small shop behind the restaurant that sells cheese, meats and condiments. Though we didn’t need a reason to come back, we’ll be sure to bring a cooler the next time we do. Oh, Farm. I can’t wait for my next visit.
1006 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2T 0A5, Canada