Farmstead Table: Farm to Table in Newton
Atmosphere: Crisp. Everything here screams fresh. Walls painted in a soothing soft gray are adorned with simple decoration. Chairs are painted in a vibrant green to add color without shocking. There is also something relaxing about the space. Perhaps it’s the colors, or more likely, it’s the staff. Everyone is working hard, yet poised to make it seem effortless.
Menu: Changes according to what’s fresh, be it daily or a couple of times a week. The focused menu is simple and offers something for everyone.
(This was the menu on one night – it will change!)
Bar: A small four-seat bar houses local beers, impressive wines and some local spirits.
Gin fans will be delighted to see Grand Ten behind the bar, and a cocktail on the menu with it. St Germain brings out the herbal notes while the grapefruit adds just enough tart to compliment the sweetness of the St. Germain.
If you are a fan of Roxbury-based Bully Boy, try their White Whiskey Old-Fashioned. Although not the menu, this rendition takes a classic and makes slight alterations to highlight the white whiskey.
White Whiskey Old-Fashioned
Appetizers are in the $8-12 range, with offerings that also change with availability. The Calamari salad on our first visit really hit the mark, substituting traditional fried calamari with a more “naked” version which I always find refreshing. This dish was perfectly done and I cannot wait to see something similar return to the menu.
On our second visit with Meghan and Eric, we ordered the House Cured Salmon Lox Toast (pickled shallots, dill creme fraiche, baby greens) for the table. The portion was large enough to split among four and still provide a reasonably-sized bite for everyone. Here, the dill creme fraiche really works with the salmon, and thick toast provides a fun base for all the ingredients. We decided to order two salads for the table as well. Again, portions were large enough for sharing (but small enough to not ruin your dinner). The summer vegetable salad was filled with crisp, fresh vegetables including cucumber, corn, tomato and beets. The vinaigrette is light, providing only a hint of flavor and letting the fresh veggies speak for themselves. As the tomato season comes to a close, Chef Chad Burns is making the most of the remaining crop with a beautiful tomato salad, topped with blue cheese and sprinkled with bacon.
Marinated Summer Vegetable Salad; lemon viniagrette, garden herbs, pickled shallots
Heirloom Tomato Salad; shaved sweet onion, great hill blue cheese, bacon viniagrette
Moving on to entrees, the chicken is pan-seared to leave a crisp on the skin, while the tender breast is remains juicy. The parsnip purée is creamy in texture, rich in flavor but won’t leave you with that stick-to-your-runs feeling. Baby vegetables are simple and well prepared. Of course Jon had to try this dish on our first visit and I’m sure it will become a favorite.
Roast Free-Range Chicken; parsnip puree, baby vegetables, thyme natural jus
When we were told the high quality of the steak, Jon knew he would have to try it. A thick cut is perfectly cooked with a light demi glaze that only heightens the natural flavor of the meat. Served atop a potato purée of similar preparation to the parsnip, Chef raises the concept of mashed potatoes to the next level.
Delmonico Steak; potato puree, native beans, red wine reduction
I ordered the duck on our first visit. This beautiful dish really thrives in the seasoning of the duck and the simple accompaniments.
Roast Duck Breast; braised peaches, bok choy, baby new potatoes
While Eric went with the same Delmonico steak, Meghan order the Day-Boat Fish which consisted of three large scallops served over a medley of corn and potatoes. The plate was beautiful, the scallops had a perfect sear. (Read her review here.)
Cape Ann CSF Day-Boat Fish
And last, but certainly not least, I’ve had the chance to try two different vegetarian dishes. Even though I am a lover of all things meat, I have been intrigued by the Vegetarian listing on Chef’s menu ever since they opened. Pesto risotto with fresh mushrooms and garlic were enough to convince me to give it a try, and I think I’m hooked. On our next visit, Chef was so excited about his eggplant dish that his enthusiasm was contagious and I ordered it without hesitation. Again, it did not disappoint. The eggplant was so light, perfectly paired with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Both of these dishes had me thinking I could be a very happy vegetarian (and that’s saying a lot).
Vegetarian; locally-grown farm-fresh vegetables, uniquely prepared each day
(Eggplant, Heirloom Tomato, Mozzarella)
Our dinner with Meghan and Eric concluded with the Baked Chocolate Pudding, which our server mentioned during our entree course took twenty minutes to bake and arrived in just about that amount of time. This dessert was a big hit at the table, each bite having a creamy richness created by Pastry Chef Sharon Burns. While I very much enjoyed this decadent treat, I prefer the Creme Brulee, which is equally delicious and one of the best I’ve had recently.
Baked Chocolate Pudding
Extra Little Things
The main highlights of a dining experience are often the food and the service. Farmstead Table easily hits the mark in both categories, but sometimes it’s the small things that bring an experience from good to excellent. The bread here is made in-house by Pastry Chef Burns and its rustic feel really sets the tone for the meal to follow.
Our dinner server Robin was very knowledgeable with wine and suggested a perfect half-bottle for Meghan and I to split that paired well with both my vegetarian dish and her scallops. On a second visit, even though we were seated at the bar, Robin took the time to recommend a terrific glass of Vidal Blanc for my eggplant dish. That type of dedication to guests, regardless of whether they are serving you or not, goes a long way in my book.
Finally, there’s just something about this husband and wife team that offers an honest sincerity. On two of our three visits, Chef Chad made an appearance at our table or stopped by the bar. Chat with this guy for thirty seconds and his passion for food will be obvious. This type of love and dedication are evident in every plate at Farmstead Table, and their willingness to serve local ingredients is one I fully support.
Farmstead Table is located 71 Union St, just across the street from the Newton Centre T stop (green line, D). Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday and you can make a reservation at (617) 928-6000.
Where have you enjoyed the farm-to-table concept?