The Farm Cafe

Date: January 19, 2008
Times Visited: 4

The Farm Cafe is a cozy Portland favorite with a sole vegan entrée on their menu that I adore. The entrée is so reliably delicious that Stumptown Vegans included it on our ‘Top 10 Best Things We’ve Eaten in Portland” list in the most recent Travel issue of Herbivore Magazine.

Located just off of East Burnside on SE 7th, The Farm is an intimate, local and seasonal produce-focused (hence the name) restaurant that only serves fish and veg*n meals. The building itself is a quaint, little house with mellow lighting and smaller tables.

The problem with eating vegan food at the farm is not the short list of options, but in the wait to order. The Farm proves to be a hip dinner spot, and my wait was over an hour on a Saturday night. This was anticipated, and my dining companion and I waited out on the covered back patio, while many other parties arrived and immediately left after learning the wait time. The bar area greets you when you first walk in, and unless you insist on waiting in the doorway or find a seat at the bar, head to the back patio under the heat lamps. Drinks can be ordered at the bar to take outside and added to your bill. The patio itself could use some more seating to alleviate a crowded bar room.

There is more than one vegan appetizer, and veganizable salads, such as the Roasted Beet with walnut vinaigrette. The bowl of local hazelnuts ($5) roasted with Tabasco, brown sugar and rosemary was the type of dish my culinary mind immediately made note to decipher the taste and recreate at home. I spied a bowl out on the patio while being seated, and had I know I could have ordered these from the bar, I would have. One appetizer would have sufficed my party of two, but the roasted garlic and toasted baguette ($5) is also a great choice. It is short on the bread in comparison to the two heads, but use that as a reason to smother a slice with garlic, even if it is date night. There is also a hummus plate, edamame and sautéed mushrooms with herbs (request it with oil, not butter).

There’s a lot of hype about the tofu ($12), so I’ll try to break it down. Rest assure that you will not moan at your table, but you just may inside your head. Before dining here, I had many friends recommend it very enthusiastically. Just read this description from the menu: “Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushrooms Marsala: Breaded and herbed tofu cutlets with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and Crimini Mushroom Marsala”. The savory breading is seared onto the chewy tofu, which consists of three pieces propped up against a mound of creamy potatoes. The mushroom marsala sauce is tangy, earthy and makes the meal a fancy stand out. I like this dish even more knowing that by design alone it compares up to other dishes on the menu. It’s not something a good vegan cook couldn’t figure similarly out at home, but it is a multi-part meal that is not going to be whipped up in 30 minutes or less.

Drink wise, The Farm has a cool cocktail list of both hot and cold drinks at average prices. My personal favorite is the aptly named OLCC ($7) – a colorful mix of blood orange, chocolate and lime. I’ve yet to encounter a vegan dessert, but I’ve been told it happens. Think warm fruits and sorbet.

If you’re going with another vegan, you may luck out with a daily special that is vegan-friendly, but you’ll probably end up ordering the same meal. You’ll lack the chance to try each other’s food, but if tofu is a plus, cherish the atmosphere and delicious meal together. Give it a try when on a date with a fish or cheese eater, or with a small group of friends. Take your parents and a friend or significant other. Consider a weeknight meal as a special treat and beat the crowd!

It would be sweet to see another vegan option or two on the menu, being that there are other vegetarian ones, but until that time comes, I’m set. My eyebrows rise at the very thought of eating that tofu again – $12 well spent!

Roasted Garlic Appetizer:

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Roasted Hazelnuts:
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Herb Crusted Tofu:
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Tequila Mockingbird and Rogue Hazelnut Nectar:
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Rating: 4 out of 5
Address: 10 SE 7th Ave. Portland, OR

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17 responses to “The Farm Cafe

  1. that dish is the shit! i’m surprised that they don’t create more vegan dishes since that one seems so popular….
    it’s been too long since i ate at the Farm, i need to go soon…

  2. I need to made the knock off recipe by Joanna – I just keep looking at the photos and thinking how much work would be ahead of me!

    That is terrible about your long wait. I get fantastically irritated at those situations.

  3. Hi Whoops – Thanks for the note. Apparently Rogue’s Dead Guy is their only vegan ale, but since I’ve seen conflicting information online regarding the others, I have emailed the company. HOWEVER, readers should know that it was not a vegan who drank that one.

    VeganFabulous – It was worth the wait! I returned with friends this weekend, and we actually really enjoyed our time on the back patio (45 min.+) – and got nuts.

  4. I love Farm!! I haven’t been there for a while so hopefully I can go again soon. I usually get the GINger drink, which is a nice gin & tonic with fresh grated ginger. Yum! It’s amazing how the tofu dish doesn’t look like a lot of food, but it ends up being so filling. I truly love everything about Farm, except the art! I still haven’t seen any art there that I like. Oh well. I love that it is in a house. Yay Farm!

  5. the tofu dish looks really good, but what do people think: could someone like me who generally does not like the texture of mushrooms possibly enjoy that sauce?

  6. hey sophia,

    I wonder if they’d make the sauce without mushrooms for you, and maybe with just all shallots? The tofu and mashed potatoes are very good, but the sauce does bring it all together.
    The mushroom flavor does add depth to the sauce, so it’s a tricky one.

  7. I love, love, love Rogue!!! And that herb-crusted tofu looks ridiculously good! Yuuuummm!!

    Oh! And roasted garlic on bread is one of my favorite pre-meal delights.

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  9. i finally got to eat here and in case any other mushroom-hating vegans care, it was no problem for them to make the sauce without mushrooms – i think they substituted zucchini and parsnips. it was completely fantastically amazing.

  10. The Tofu Marsala is one of my favorite dishes in town, its so awesome they’ll make the sauce to order for different preferences. And I’m glad you cleared up the beer debate, it was served at Nut Shell, it’s one of my favorites! Now if they’ll just make the veggie burger vegan.

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  12. The Farm has changed some features which has diminished it’s appeal. They took the herb crusted tofu off the menu and reduced the appetizer servings to the point of the absurd. Just avoid the cheese plate as we got one selection which was less than an ounce; really!! The soups and the veggie burger were great though. It is also nice that they are taking reservations. I eat here far less now though.

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