Farmhouse Chicago: A ChiOrganic Girls Review

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.

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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!

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Course 2: Green Acres Farm Chilled Melon Soup, Summer Bread Salad, Spiced Yogurt, Crispy Njuda, Mint

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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

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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.

Course 5: Peaches and Cream Ice Cream Sandwich, Mick Klug Farm Michigan Marmalade, Milk Jam and Ice Cream, Vanilla Bean Shortcake20150901_193928

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.

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Are you a Farmhouse Fan?  Tell us your favorite dish!

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Come out of Chi-bernation for these Winter Food Finds

Oh winter…devilishly evil Chicago winter.  You haven’t been able to keep us down…especially with all these events and restaurant openings popping up.  What about you, dear readers?  Have you wound your scarf around you and strapped those snow boots on to take the chill out of winter?  Here are some spots that may make you wanna brave the great white Midwest.

Remember that ol’ Lasalle Power company dance club you used to troll to pick up your future v-day date?  Well now it’s been converted into a brand new Gino’s East.  Chicago’s legendary pizza spot just got classy at its River North location.  Three floors of expansive rustic cozy hangout space will eliminate your wait with your out of town guests as you get your “mangia” on with artichoke pizza, pickle-y sliders and fat stuffed cheese sticks with spinach.  The restaurant proclaims to be  including a brewery opening in several months as well…just in time for Spring!!

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Our next pick is a neighbor to the north, Pizzeria Serio, a  hidden addition to the food scene on Belmont avenue in Lakeview.  WGN’s Chicago Best honored Pizzeria Serio as one of Chicago’s fave pizza.  Check out the video here.  We hopped over snow mounds to meet with the Chicago Food Bloggers and Pizzeria Serio was gracious enough to host our group.  We sampled several tasty starters like a Spinach Salad (baby spinach leaves, red onion, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and walnuts in homemade citrus dressing) and the more traditional Caprese.   For veggie lovers and goat cheese lovers (eww says one of us..the goat cheese hater) try the spinach specialty pizza (EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, tomatoes, spinach, ricotta and goat cheese sans sauce).  For the more purist pizza crowd, try the wood burned crusty Eat Your Veggies (onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives)  and get your 5 a day veg serving…a good excuse to eat mas pizza if we do say so…and we do.

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In a whole other country (this is what it feels like to Chicago residents) is Farmhouse in Evanston.  This tavern makes their own burgers, condiments and soda from scratch with ingredients plucked straight from Midwestern farms.  Even their beverage selection is pulled only from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.  The majority of interior pieces are reclaimed woods and salvaged materials.  At the kick off to North Shore Restaurant month, going on now, we gobbled down hot beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds with crispy warm centers and fresh Tavern-cut peppery potato chips with homemade ranch-like dipping sauce.  On demand for our next visit is the Old World Grains Burger with Forest Mushroom and Poblano Pepper.  For those of you who don’t venture that far out of our city, there’s also a sister location in River North with a slightly different menu and a two floor space.  Don’t all these pics of yummy food make you wanna trek through your alley to the El?

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