Farmhouse Tavern (228 W. Chicago Ave.) sits in a small storefront on Chicago Avenue immediately off the Brown Line. Their focus is, as you’d imagine, farm to plate food that is both seasonal and extremely well executed. They proudly feature their cooperating farmers and other resources on a large chalk board next to the clean, understated bar space.
The whole restaurant is dimly lit, cozy and super welcoming the moment you step through the doorway. There is a community style table up front and more of a dining space towards the back of the rustic feeling space.We were seated at a large u-shaped booth towards the back of the restaurant – perfect for the four of us and taking some pictures without disturbing other guests.
On to the food. We began with some bar snacks. The house cured beef jerky and farm roasted nuts were a unanimous choice. The jerky was a nice balance of smoky, spicy, beefy, peppery and just a touch of sweetness. It was tender and not at all difficult to chew. The nuts were candied nicely and – well – who doesn’t love candied nuts. Simple but well done.
The Farmhouse Chop salad included Tavern nuts, Michigan dried cherries, mixed vegetables all well dressed in a creamy herb cider dressing. The dressing was lighter than it looked, which was a plus, considering how well the ingredients were coated I’m a fan of dried fruit and nuts in just about any salad. You could taste the freshness of the ingredients in the dish. Even the dried cherries were artisanal and not your typical store bought variety.
Lastly, one of the “required” items of the house as the server put it, we ordered the Wisconsin cheese curds. And yes – they’re real and they’re spectacular. Other cheese curds are sometimes hollow and have too much fry to cheese. These, on the other hand, were extremely gooey and cheesy. They stayed together really well, were large and big enough for two bites in some cases. The flavor of the cheese was sharp and actually tasted like rich cheese, not just a bland gooey mess. These are cheese curds done right. Thought and care went into the frying of the curds so they didn’t stick too much and the order itself proved to be plentiful.
For entrees we split the tender boneless BBQ short ribs. Served with a blistered sweet corn and scallion fritter and wilted garlic kale, the meat was extremely tender, rolled up for presentation sake and served with a natural jus. The flavors were rustic, rich and earthy. The meat was clearly a quality cut of short rib. Very nice.
We also shared the fresh grilled river trout with heirloom fingerling potatoes, melted leeks and a lager butter. The fish was moist, robust with a light malty flavor with a touch of grassy lemon. The potatoes melted in your mouth. The dish was filling for fish and we were overall extremely pleased with our selections.
Mac n Cheese made with wagon wheel pasta and a thick rich cheese blend is topped with delicate bread crumbs. The cheese was stiff enough to not run off your fork and the pasta was left slightly al dente which is rarely done with macaroni and cheese. A winner.
Lastly, charred elote was simply done with extremely sweet corn, dusted with paprika, a light spicy mayo, lime and cilantro. Lately, we’ve been going with the elote wherever it crosses our path – the Peasantry, the Sox game, now here.
The Farmhouse is a great improvement from Bar Louie that used to rest in its spot. The food is spot on, the service is friendly and non-obtrusive. The atmosphere is cozy and fits the rest of the concept. I approve of this message.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat!