Thursday, July 7, 2011

Off to the Farmhaus

Let me tell you about St. Louis and fine dining: it is starting to make a comeback.  I know that there are places in STL that you can pay $100 for a steak and sit down in a restaurant where the average age is 70 something and enjoy a steak in peace and quiet, but that is not what real fine dining is.  Fine dining is great food and great service and great atmosphere, with a great cause.  That is it.

Now, unlike food writers who work for places in STL, like the RFT, Sauce magazine or even Feast magazine, when I make a reservation at a restaurant, I don't want them to know it is me.  I want to give an honest experience, not one tainted by free meals, perks or extra friendly service.  So, I called Friday night for a reservation at Sage and they didn't have an opening until 9pm.  Again, if you have a restaurant that has only 7 tables, then you need a bit more.  Also, I called Taste/Niche and they didn't have an opening until 9:30pm.  Now, sure, we finished eating our meals at the Farmhaus by 9:45 or so, but starting a night romantic dinner at 9:30pm, means that doing something afterwards is difficult, well with the lack of real danceable night clubs in St. Louis and all.  I'm sure that if I called and mentioned that I was a food and restaurant critic that I could have gotten a seat at any time, but what is the fun in that?

Farmhaus was nice and friendly and we got a spot at 8:15.  The restaurant gathers most of their ingredients from local sources and when the can't, they get the best.  It is more of a fancy/casual restaurant.  We saw some people in shorts and others in suits.  We sat near the bar and it was a nice atmosphere for my wife and I.  The food menu is typed on a piece of paper and changed daily so we picked some plates to share.

The first plate that we ordered was the "Escolar Chaumette Traminette, dill and butter poached, grilled Pacific Blue prawns, roasted carrots and bok choy".  I don't like most fish, but this fish tasted like butter and dill and was delicious.  My wife enjoyed the perfectly cooked prawns and we both ate everything in the dish, including the two pieces of bok choy and the carrots.  A 4 out of 5 for me.
Also, as a warning, the pictures all have a yellow tint because of the yellow light that was shining down on our table.  But everything was good.
The next dish we had was the "Day Boat Scallops Whipped shrimp, roasted locally foraged chanterelle mushrooms".  The scallops were okay, by my standards, my wife said that they were cooked perfectly, so we will go with her thoughts.  The whipped shrimp tasted like sweet shrimp and there were two dried tomato skins on top, which were like very delicate and thin tomato chips.  It was an easy 4 out of 5.
I had to do it and the next dish was the "Beet Risotto Roasted heirloom beets, Oregon white truffle" and it was awesome.  The risotto had the perfect creamy texture that it should have but it had a meaty flavor that was rich enough that it tasted like venison or a very good beef stock.  It was also colored and cooked with beets which gave it a beety flavor along with shaved pieces of truffle.  The truffle was a perfect balance for the risotto and everything worked well together.  A 4 out of 5.
We then had the next dish as "Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Sweet and Yukon Gold smashed potatoes, sous vide pearl onions, tomato Merlot reduction."  The bacon added some flavor but wasn't needed to add much to the meatloaf as the meat was tasty.  The gravy was almost more of a tomato sauce, as it was supposed to be and the onions were perfectly cooked and tasty as well.  For having bacon in the name and the recipe, it didn't taste much like bacon, which is a good thing, with all of these other complimenting flavors.  A 4 out of 5 for me.
Besides the dessert, which was the honey and pecan ice cream with all the other pecan stuff, the meal was great.  The service staff are all wearing jeans and flannel shirts, like a stereotype farmer and they are so friendly.  When asked about which dish our server would recommend, unlike other restaurants, she didn't suggest the most expensive item.  I highly recommend the Farmhaus restaurant and I highly suggest anyone and everyone go there.  I would say that they are the RM of St. Louis.

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