Tonight, we braved the snow and elements to dine at Farmhouse, serving up their take on West Coast Meets Italy cuisine. The Farmhouse is a newer restaurant that has only open as of November of last year. The are located off of East Broadway, so if you did not know they existed, you would not know to go. They have since settled into their new home and have already welcomed the neighbourhood in, so thought to introduce themselves to the rest of Vancouver.
The simple and rustic decor speaks to the name, adding charm by way of found pieces and antiques that surround the room. From a collection of wooden cutting boards hanging by the door, to the repurposed milk canister made into an umbrella stand. Old farmhouse windows have become mirrors, giving the open space the illusion of depth, and traditional kitchen appliances are idle on the display. Everyone especially liked the feature wall of small porcelain side plates and saucers, nailed up in a whimsical fashion.
We, as guests were all gathered around a long table, family style. Set to share larger portions of food between 4, to be able to try and take in more. Five courses, each with its own Italian wine pairing, presented in some of the most elegant glassware, thanks to its elongated stems.
As we waited for the table to settle in, we were treated to a collection of house-made breads, freshly made on the day. It and the selection of dipping oils do vary by day, so take our serving with a grain of salt. We had a cakey polenta bread that reminded us of cornbread in sweetness and grit. Although I preferred the tangy and chewy slices of sourdough with its crispy crust. A slice each for everyone, served with your choice of dip and dap by way of a sweet aged balsamic, spicy house made chilli oil, or tart olive oil dip.
Our first course began with the 2020 Domodimonti “Deja Vu” Passerina from Marche, Italy. A white wine that was a light and fresh start with lots of green fruit. Tt did well to accompany both the red meat and seafood forward appetizers.
Hand-chopped steak tartare with 24 grass-fed beef, lemon, anchovy, cured egg yolk, and a savoury pizzelle. Guests were directed to stir the yolk in, so we all expected it to run, instead it had a gooey texture than you really had to deliberately fold into the mound of raw ground beef. The tartare as a whole was tangy and peppery with a salty fishiness to it, this completely contrasted the buttery sweet biscuit provided as a base. An interesting pairing, but not one that I was too fond of.
The Tomato tonnato was a more familiar pairing with marinated tomato, grilled albacore tuna, tuna emulsion, zucchini relish, and tarragon. Despite it not being the feature in the title, the pickled vegetable hidden at the bottom of the plate was the one to really stand out for me, adding character to the otherwise blander dish and fish.
Our second course began with the 2018 Villa Sparina “Monterotondp” Cortese from Piedmont, Italy. This was a juicy white served in a bodacious glass. It was a lot more subtle for our seafood course, described as being oaky with a coconutty finish.
The wine was a nice accompaniment for the Seared scallop risotto with carnaroli rice, marscapone, crispy risotto, and parsley purée. The buttery brown, firm scallops were the highlight to a bed of soften risotto fragranced with rosemary, and finished with crispy bits that reminded guests of popcorn.
The Whole branzino came sans the head, but it was a whole fish split open and stuffed with a prawn and spinach mousse; served alongside chickpeas, broccoli, and fennel purée. I have never had fish like this, and I would like to have it again. The white meat was firm and almost ate like chicken with its springy texture. This was a first for my mouth. The filling was as mild as the fish, as to not overwhelm its natural flavour, but accent with a muted herbaceous-ness. This was a great plate with a unique take that I have yet to see or experience anywhere else.
For our meat course we went red with the 2019 Mirafiore Langha Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy. This too was served in a curvy glass. Here, the wine with its acidity helped to balance out some of the richer notes from the likes of meatballs, steak, and duck liver mousse. This by far was my favourite course of the night.
I love a good hearty Italian pasta and the Tagliatelle al ragù delivered with thick strands of saucy noodles smothered in duck ragù, cured egg yolk, and a duck liver mousse. I did not get each individually listed component per say, but altogether the flavour was comforting and exactly what you expect from a meaty red sauce pasta, with hints of roasting spices like nutmeg and curry.
The Polpetta was a giant meatball, that was plenty split 4 ways, and simply fun. Prepared from beef and pork and topped with kale, ricotta salata, and a raisin vinaigrette. It had the texture of a spongy meatloaf when cut down to size and there was an abundance of sauces to ensure no part of it would be left dry.
The feature was their market price Farmhouse Cut. Porcini-crusted local pastured beef, colatura gremolata, and walnut sauce. The beef was tender and fatty if you picked your piece right. The collection of root vegetables offered a nice base and the walnut sauce a surprise sugar.
Our last course was accompanied by a dessert wine. The 2020 Anselmi “I Capitelli” Garganega from Piedmont, Italy. It was a sweet sipper to marry the trio of desserts to follow. It boasted a honey hue, the scent of passion fruit, and the whisper of mango in its finish. This was a fun tropical dessert wine.
From the lightest to the heaviest dessert, we started with the Panna Cotta with sage cream, macerated fruit, and florentine. It was fun to break through the crispy sugar cookie lid to get through to the cheesy core. The panna cotta reminded me of cheesecake in flavour and texture, and more so with the berry topping. Whereas when I think of panna cotta I think more of a yogurty-tofu texture and a milky flavour.
The Crostata al limone is my preferred way to end a meal, with strong citrus to wash the palate. On the menu this was described as “thicc” and this lush lemon tart delivered. Great on its own, but something altogether different and special with the basil gelato in one bite. I would not have thought to pair the two together, but here we are, and I will need to have it again. The tart and tangy lemon gel puckers, while the sweet and earthy basil balances it out for a very harmonious mouthful.
And what Italian restaurant does not offer the popular Tiramisù for dessert? But at Farmhouse they do it their way as a mascarpone and savoiari parfait with an espresso gelatina. More cake then the typically soft cream and mash dessert. This I preferred as I am typically not a fan of tiramisu for its lack of varying textures. Here the first sponge and the crunch of the solid chocolate wheel, plus the coffee jelly atop were a nice distraction from all the cream.
In closing Farmhouse offers a nice option by Kingsgate Mall, a dressy casual restaurant for a quite evening of rustic Italian. Outstanding food preparation, quality wines to pair with them, and the idyllic decor to enjoy it all in. I can and will be recommending this one.
352 E 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T 1Z7, Canada