Whaaa…we found a place that embodies our blog namesake. River North is hiding a gem of a restaurant, Farmhouse Chicago, right underneath our CTA riding noses, literally. Farmhouse partners with local Midwestern farms in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to provide us city slickers with farmtastic vittles. We were treated to a VIP 5 course tasting event recently to check out new menu creations and learn about Farmhouse’s holistic approach to restaurateur-ing. The first thing we noticed about Farmhouse was the rustic and cozy decor. Co-owners, Ferdia Doherty and TJ Callahan, explained that even the furnishings promote local moods with reclaimed art touches from retired Chicago bars and restaurants and salvaged furniture from the south side.
Chef, Eric Mansavage, detailed each course’s farm connection and ingredient alchemy as we nibbled our way through the Midwest.
Note* No Monicas were hurt during this dinner. Her vegetarian ideals remained intact as Kate took one for team meat! Rest assured, Farmhouse has plenty of farmiliar vegetarian options on their everyday menu.
Course 1: Ellis Farms Green Grapes and Ham Market Amuse
First, don’t act like you know what an amuse is…unless you’re a foodie. Just in case, an amuse is bite-sized hors d’œuvre. We were amused by this fancy PBJ with on a crostini. Tasting notes: Crunchy, yummy, grapey, give us moree than bite sized, please!
Course 2: Green Acres Farm Chilled Melon Soup, Summer Bread Salad, Spiced Yogurt, Crispy Njuda, Mint
This is like a food dictionary lesson! Njuda is a spicy spreadable pork sausage, like pig pate, hahaha. Although we weren’t big fans of the chilled cantaloupe soup (maybe too sweet?), the summer bread salad with crisp radish and tart yogurt tickled the tongue.
Course 3: Grilled Rushing Waters Rainbow Trout, Black Garlic Roasted Tomatillos, Black Bean Relish, Swan Creek Bacon Lardon
So, normally, seafood fans we are not (as Yoda would say) but hey, the force was strong with this fish. The skin was on but, shocker, it was actually smoky and delicious with a flavor reminiscent of bacon. The fish was not “fishy” but freshy. It was mild with a melty texture. The black bean relish on its own would have been a crowd pleaser as well.
Course 4: BBQ Short Ribs, Butter Poached Indiana Shrimp, Hazzard Free Farms Pimento Cheese Popcorn Grits, Sweet Corn
Chef, Eric Mansavage, described this cornucopia (aha!) as Farmhouse’s version of surf and turf. Full disclosure, not a shrimp fan, but the short ribs were tender and surrounded by a delicate moat of popcorn grits. It’s like going to the movies and bringing a rib in your popcorn box.
If you know the Peaches and Cream song sing along….peaches and creaaam. Juicy Michigan peaches, peach marmalade that was almost like carmamel-ade, and sweet cream ice cream nestled between 2 pillowy cookies. Ob-vs we love dessert. Even Monica could chow down on this soon to be farmous goodie.
Farmhouse owners are expanding their acres with the new Farmbar in Lincoln Park, set to open in October. They can also subsidize your love of cider as they own Brown Dog Farm and its filled to the bushel with apple, pear, peach and cherry trees. Can we get a Yum Yum? We love their down to (the) earth mentality and will definitely root our way back to try their veggie options.
Are you a Farmhouse Fan? Tell us your favorite dish!