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!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Address: 10 SE 7th Ave. Portland, OR