Farmhouse Tavern – Service that smelled like a pigsty
|Location||1627 Dupont Street|
|Dinner for two (with drinks)||$80|
You know those places that are always packed and you wonder what all the fuss is about? Farmhouse Tavern is that type of restaurant—its tables are never empty. On a cool summer night, my date and I decided to check it out before heading to Shakespeare in High Park.
Located at the corner of Dupont Street and Dundas Street West, Farmhouse Tavern is a bit off the beaten path, but it has made a name for itself in the farm-to-table movement, especially since Alex Molitz stepped in as head chef in 2013. Although he’s no longer the man behind the farm-driven cuisine, he was the guy who put Farmhouse Tavern on Toronto’s radar. Owner Darcy MacDonnell sources all ingredients locally—and doesn’t stop at the food. There’s an eclectic collection of wines and craft beers from across Ontario as well.
The space was a physical manifestation of its name—the perfect mix of kitschy farm paraphernalia and casual pub-like atmosphere. We were led to our table and seat that took up the greater part of one wall was actually actually a reclaimed church pew. Our server came by and explained the “Farmhouse Rules”—no menu, just look at the daily offerings on the chalkboard and place your order. She was pleasant, attentive and warm.
The drink menu was far more extensive than the shockingly brief food menu, with craft brews from all corners of Ontario. I ordered a glass of Norman Hardie Pinot Noir to start and my date had a cranberry KW Craft Cider. While sipping on my red, I checked into Yelp and a promotion popped up saying I was entitled to a free refill of whatever I was drinking. Thinking it was too good to be true, I asked the server when she came by again and she clarified that it was legit.
Craning our necks to see the chalkboard, I quickly decided on the veggie stack ($17), a grilled pile of Portobello mushrooms, eggplant and zucchini served sans bun with fries. My date opted for the Barnyard Burger ($21), which was a traditional burger with a sunny-side up duck egg and bacon. Both of our orders looked better than they tasted. My grilled veggies were lifeless and charred. The accompanying tomato sauce was tepid and flavourless. It looked like Heinz’s tomato paste that had been smeared on top. From the first bite, it was obvious that the veggies had been pre-cooked and zapped back to ‘life’. The hand-cut fries, which had huge potential, were under-salted and the portion was stingy. And the bite of burger that I tried was better, but not by much. I’m not sure what the hype was about.
When the server came back to clear our plates, she asked if we wanted dessert and we said “no.” Not ten seconds later, she hastily delivered the bill. My date and I gave each other a puzzled glance. Her mood was totally different from when she greeted us. When she came back, we asked to redeem our Yelp offer. She was ticked off and didn’t even try to hide it. I can only guess it was because I was drinking a $17 glass of wine (the most expensive). She delivered the free refill with a passive aggressive stare.
Farmhouse Tavern, let’s have a little heart-to-heart. Don’t offer promotions to Yelpers unless you’re prepared to deliver on the promise. Props on supporting local farmers and artisans, but please, tone down the ’tude. It smelled like manure. Although I’ve heard better things about their Sunday brunch, I’m afraid I’ll be leaving the barnyard behind. Quel bordel!
Mme M. xoxo
Le rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.