While most restaurants are eagerly anticipated to a certain degree, I don’t think there has been one that has come close in recent years to the much-awaited new restaurant at Roger’s Gardens called Farmhouse.
This rustic, open-air restaurant is the latest creation by Chef Rich Mead of Sage fame. Chef Mead has a loyal following from his days of cooking up delicious meals at Sage in a tiny neighborhood shopping center in Newport Beach, but I would have to guess that even the most loyal of followers had no idea the Farmhouse would be such a big hit.
After spending time speaking to the assistant chef, Chef Allan, I was even more impressed with the passion and purpose of Chef Rich Mead’s vision for Farmhouse.
It’s more than the rustic, upscale, farmhouse design that combines unfinished wood and simple chandeliers against the greenery of Roger’s Gardens that makes this restaurant a pleasure to dine in. This is a “sustainable field-to-fork dining experience”. The food is what really makes it a wonderful place, especially if you seek fresh, organic, locally produced and procured foods prepared with creativity for each season’s bounty. As Chef Allan (right hand man to Chef Rich) said to me, “everything we do has a story behind it”. Salmon from Skuna Bay, PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels and grass fed beef from Brandt Farms, where every aspect of beef production is under their direction.
The real highlight, though, is the vegetables. Twice a week Chefs Rich and Allan head to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market where they select the best produce they can find from farmers that they have built a relationship with. It's 100% organic produce, with a large part of it coming from award winning Weiser Family Farms. If you don’t believe you can taste the difference in a vegetable that is locally and organically grown, then let the creations of the Farmhouse change your mind.
It wasn’t difficult to figure out that the Farmhouse’s food philosophy was in line with Thrive & Dine’s criteria, but it was difficult to get a table to taste the creations that bring nature’s best to your plate. Such is the plight of being popular and I was happy to have patience rewarded with a meal that not only tasted great, but also was good for my health and the planet.
Three lunches and one dinner later, I have been able to try several items on the menu. All of the items I tried were delicious. The freshness of the ingredients is evident not only by the beautiful colors on your plate, but also in every bite you take. In some cases, like the Chopped Grilled Vegetable Salad and The Farmhouse Vegetable Plate, you get the best of the season’s vegetables, cooked to perfection and accentuated by additions of a flavors from pomegranates, or freshly made pesto. The Panko Crusted Icelandic Cod is mouth-watering delicious and comes with Asian vegetables. The Herb Roast Jidori Chicken is a healthy version of comfort food and the Roasted Carrots with Burrata changed my mind on how good carrots can taste. For all of you salmon lovers out there, the Grilled Pomegranate Glazed Salmon Salad on the lunch menu is a must–try. I have yet to find something on the menu I didn’t like.
They have a good selection of wines and beer and offer some creative signature cocktails. I liked the Dark Ages, a mix of amaro, carpano antica and bourbon. Every now and again I save room for dessert and if that’s how you roll, then the Vanilla Bean Pot de Crème (with lemon thyme shortbread) is worth the splurge.
The menu will change throughout the year to stay current with serving the freshest produce of each season. Plan ahead (you’ll need a reservation) to visit the Farmhouse and go hungry… there are lots of delicious items waiting for you.