Friday, May 23, 2014

Farmer's Apprentice for Lunch

I was planning a work lunch meet up with a colleague from out of town and a fellow local food enthusiast. When she suggested Farmer’s Apprentice, I was instantly intrigued and thrilled at the opportunity to check out the recently named Vancouver Magazine’s 2014 Restaurant of the Year. It’s located a short walk from my office and I’ve passed by numerous times and thought the space looked charming, and I’d heard and read many rave reviews about the food.

The room is cozy, seating roughly 30 inside with an inviting 12 seat patio. Ceilings are low, wood is mismatched, and the space feels modern and yet rustic at the same time. There is a casual vibe here. 

Sparkling and still water is served in blue-rimmed enamel tumblers and a Fleetwood Mac vinyl was spinning on a turntable towards the back end of the restaurant. There are some great touches in this space; a beautiful photo of an abandoned barn, an antique stained-glass window frame, planter boxes with herbs and flowers on the patio.

This was a long lunch and over the course of our meal we had mixed feelings about service. There were a few instances that we were made to feel like we were causing a real inconvenience with some questions and requests. But I loved and appreciated the love, enthusiasm, and knowledge that every staff member has for the food and this restaurant.

Smoked castelvatrano olives $4, beyond bread sourdough, onion butter $4
These hearty slices of sourdough bread served warm, with a crispy crust and warm sumptuous innards served with a side of extra-virgin olive oil and an onion butter that’s rich, savoury and delightful.
The olives are meaty vivid green with a big, bold, alderwood smoky flavour.

Dandelion, bacon and hazelnut strudel with ricotta $9
The smaller plate was light with a nice balance of light flaky pastry, side arugula salad greens and richness from the smoky chunks of bacon and hazelnut.

Roasted chicken breast, rye berries, nettles, mushroom marmalade, veloute $18
This was a large plate full of earthy flavours. The two pieces of large, tender perfectly cooked chicken breast with toothsome rye berries (like a chewy quinoa?), nettle greens (which also had a surprisingly meaty flavour), with a small dab of salty and slightly sweet balsamic tasting mushroom marmalade with a drizzle of creamy veloute to bring the plate together.

Spring salmon, spring vegetables, aromatic nage $17
This plate was a bit smaller but just beautiful…looked like a delicious spring bouquet. I was lucky enough to get a bite of salmon which was supple with FANTASTIC crispy skin.

There is a lot of effort, skill, creativity, and love in this food. Just reading the menu, taking in the ambience and watching plates come out of the kitchen made me smile. The menu changes daily, depending upon what’s fresh and available. The portions aren’t hefty (the chicken was pretty substantial) but are well executed with prime ingredients and beautiful flavours.

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