Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dinner at The Farmhouse Cafe

Capri salad at Farmhouse Cafe

I've written about Farmhouse Cafe before - but it was just after they opened, and the post was about lunch, which they no longer serve, so I really think it's time for an update. I've dined there three or four times over the past few months, but James joined me for the first time last Saturday night for a lovely meal at the bar. We started with a Capri Salad - their version of a caprese - and the Chicken Liver Mousse, which was included in that earlier lunch, and if anything was even better than I remembered. I absolutely love this stuff. The Capri Salad was nice too, but I think I may have overdosed on the heirloom tomato and mozzarella combination by this time in the season. The tomatoes also weren't quite as good as they've been in the past - which isn't too surprising since heirlooms are on the way out at this point. Still, I will look forward to this again next year when it comes back around.
Chicken Liver Mousse at Farmhouse Cafe

Olivier came out to chat with us and told us he's gradually adding Fall items to the menu. On the night we visited it happened to be raining. It was a total anomaly - the temperature was back in the 90s by Monday - but for the evening we were more than happy to pretend the weather had changed. I ordered the Handmade Fettuccine with Moroccan Lamb Bolognese, and James had a special of Braised Pork with Colcannon - a combination of bacon, mashed potatoes and cabbage. The fettuccine is perfect cold weather fare - hearty and warmly spiced, and the candied lemon peel on top adds a dimension that really and truly makes the dish. If you like lamb, and especially if you like Moroccan flavors - you will love this.
Housemade Fettucine with Moroccan Lamb Bolognese at Farmhouse Cafe

James' pork was nicely cooked - but I think we were both a little surprised by the flavors. It was a little bit smoky and sweet, when I would have expected something more along the lines of an Irish stew. He enjoyed it though.
Braised Pork with Colcannon at Farmhouse Cafe

After perusing the always-tempting dessert list, I had to try Olivier's version of mint chip ice cream - with cocoa nibs instead of chocolate and a chocolate walnut cookie alongside. I was a little skeptical since I'm picky about my mint ice cream, but this was phenomenal. It may even have been made with chocolate mint - it tasted almost identical to the ice cream I made a few weeks ago. The cookie was delicious too - like a buttery flattened brownie chock full of walnuts.
Mint Cocoa Nib Ice Cream with Chocolate Walnut Cookies at Farmhouse Cafe

James, being one of those "not into sweets" people, tried the cheese plate. There were four cheeses, some chutney and house-made spiced nuts, which he especially liked.
Cheese plate at Farmhouse Cafe

The remarkable thing about the Farmhouse Cafe is that Olivier does everything in house from scratch, from the pickles on the chicken liver mousse starter right down to the hand-made chocolates they serve with coffee for dessert. He probably even makes the chutney on the cheese plate. I don't know when he sleeps. For those of you who have been around town for a while, Olivier was once the Chef of the "Old" Laurel. As I pointed out in my earlier post, he's the "real deal" - and so is this restaurant. Despite this fact, it is shockingly affordable - with nothing on the menu over $20. They have a fabulous wine list - and you can get lots of help with your choices, even some tastes if you ask nicely. Rochelle, Olivier's wife, poured me a taste of a superb dessert wine, Pineau de Charentes, and we tried a couple of different reds before settling on a glass. With dessert, she poured me a taste of a "wine based" Bailey's Irish Cream knock-off called - appropriately enough - "Maloneys."

I've noticed they change the menu quite frequently, but some dishes are constants - the escargot risotto (which I have yet to try, but really should) the burger, a salad of La Milpa greens and an onion, bacon and arugula flatbread pizza among them. (I can vouch for the fact that the flatbread makes a lovely shared light dinner with a salad and a glass of wine.)

Given what they're doing and the prices they're charging, it's no surprise that this place gets crowded in the evenings. It's such a tiny place that reservations are absolutely essential on the weekends. Weekdays may be a little easier, and you can try for a spot at the bar - but if you want to make sure you get a seat, I'd recommend giving them a call!

The Farmhouse Cafe
2121 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA, 92116
(619) 269-9662

Brunch Saturdays and Sundays
Dinner Tues - Sun


  1. I'm such a fan of Olivier. I'm glad you had a great meal. Let me know when you want to return and I'll join you!

  2. Love Farmhouse! We haven't been since earlier this summer. Time to go back for autumnal comfort food.

  3. You know how much I love this place. And with Olivier and Rochelle involved, you can't help but want to like it! I'm glad they seem to be doing so well. They deserve it. :)

  4. omg i want all of these recipes yummmymymmymym