Earlier this year I was invited to a preview of Farmhouse at the former Grand Luxe space, located on the ground floor of the newly renovated Beverly Center. The 7,000 square foot space has been transformed to an upscale farmhouse with wood flooring, three dining areas with tall wood ceilings, and lots of green plants.
Walking into the entrance I noticed at least one hundred guests sitting and standing in a bright dining room next to a large demonstration kitchen bustling with activity. Taking a tour of the restaurant, I noticed a lively bar and another dining area that was darker and cozier with a beautiful fireplace. There were comfortable booths and tables, and built-in shelves displaying books, art, photos and tchotchkes. Beyond was another bar and smaller dining area decorated with ferns hanging above the tables creating a greenhouse dining experience.
Farmhouse offers a seed-to-table dining experience with head farmer Nathan Peitso from Kenter Canyon Farms. This towering bearded chef is a second-generation farmer who works directly with his family farm located just north of Los Angeles. He has a great relationship with other local farmers and provides produce to many of the finest restaurants in our city. Now he also provides all the grain used for the pasta, pizza and bread on the Farmhouse menu, plus showcases a handful of seasonal ingredients at their peak each month.
Within thirty minutes the preview dinner grew crowded, so after a glass of wine and few slices of pizza, I ducked out and decided to return another time.
When my husband and I went back during the Spring season, the first person to greet us was Farmer Pietso. In a white chef’s jacket, he told us that peas, carrots, broccolini and cauliflower were the stars of the month. “The whole roasted cauliflower is the best dish on the menu,” said Pietso.
He introduced us to Fred from the bar and explained the field-to-glass cocktails. Fred recommended a creative sage whiskey cocktail made with whiskey, kumquats, lemon, chamomile and white foam on top. We learned Fred is a bit of a farmer too. He raises about 80 chickens and collects their eggs daily to bring to the restaurant. One of the eggs were used to whip up the white foam on top of this cocktail. A spoonful of local honey gave this drink a touch of sweetness.
My husband ordered the fresh Thai basil cocktail made with mezcal, poblano chili, passion fruit, bell pepper and Thai basil. The first sip evolved into a slightly robust and sweet aromatic flavor that lingered with an essence of licorice. It paired nicely with our first starter, a long wood plank topped with delicious grilled bread with a thin goat cheese smear and pickled and grilled vegetables.
Since Piesto recommended the roasted cauliflower, I ordered the roasted cauliflower soup with a swirl of carrot puree, toasted pepitas for texture and a little Romanesco (also known as Roman cauliflower). It was velvety smooth and delicious with a pleasant smack of earthy flavors.
When the whole roasted cauliflower arrived, it looked similar to a human brain. This large, mild and white floral vegetable was wood fired and caramelized before plated with yogurt, capers, dill, sesame and sweet currants.
Fred suggested we order his favorite dish – the giant grilled oysters. “They are the size of an iPhone,” he said. They arrive three on a plate and can be prepared two different ways – grilled with a Fresno chili-lime sauce or a bacon and chive butter. While enjoying these delicacies, Fred shared that these large oysters are from a farm in Willamette WA. “Pietso worked with the oyster farmer extensively to cultivate these oysters to this ultimate size,” Fred said.
Another dish I really liked was the smoked blue cheese with shaved fennel and arugula salad topped with a light citrus-tarragon vinaigrette.
The one dish that was just “meh” to me was the “cacio e pepe” spaghetti with pea shoots and peas. I did like the large peas and edible flowers, yet I felt this dish lacked exciting flavors.
We did enjoy the seared local black cod with herb potatoes and a soft boiled egg, before finishing the evening with a warm cherry clafoutis with vanilla chantilly and almonds.
Recently I had the opportunity to go back to the Farmhouse for a business lunch. Sitting in the fern dining area, we were given a set menu with a choice of five appetizers and five main course dishes.
I ordered the asparagus and kohlrabi soup enhanced with ginger and chive blossoms. It was a bright green thick smooth soup balanced with sunflower seeds for a crunchy texture. Kohlrabi is similar to a turnip and tastes a little bit like a broccoli stem or heart of a cabbage.
Sitting next to me, my friend Shaena ordered and enjoyed Grandma Ruth’s chicken soup mixed with kale and intensified with herb pesto. My other friend Kristin ordered the grilled lettuce Caesar salad that arrived with a sprinkling of sliced radish spheres, parmesan cheese and crunchy polenta croutons.
When my heirloom grain salad entree arrived it looked like a bird’s nest. On the bottom were crunchy and chewy grains with arugula leaves. This was topped with a generous amount of alfalfa sprouts. On top were sliced sections of oranges and grapefruit, short asparagus spheres, sliced avocado, tiny cauliflower florets, chopped herbs and a handful of white and black sesame seeds. I would order this colorful and nutritious salad again.
Other entrees presented to the table included the Farmhouse chicken salad; Farmhouse dry-aged burger on a housemade brioche bun; a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich served with smashed fingerling potatoes or a green salad, and a petite tri-tip steak with salsa verde.
I finished with a trio of gelato offering a scoop of seasonal tangerine, mango and grapefruit with fresh fruit.
Now during the summer, the fresh ingredients highlighted on the menu include Diver scallops, peach and burrata, summer long peppers, roasted duck breast with confit leg, zucchini, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, corn, stone fruits and responsibly farmed meat, poultry, and sustainable seafood.
On weekends they offer a brunch buffet that features peach & ricotta, summer grilled vegetables, buttermilk biscuit, fingerling potatoes, mesclun sald, caesar salad, heirloom grain salad, and slices of tomato mozzarella pizza. Guests can choose one main dish that includes Egg Benedict, gravalx omelette, steak and eggs, avocado toast, or a cheeseburger. Afterwards, make a trip to the dessert buffet for bread pudding, assorted cookies and a seasonal fruit salad. Coffee is included. This brunch is $28 per person. Valet parking is $4 at lunch, and $8 at dinner with validation. The restaurant opens Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. $$ 8509 W. 3rd St. (310)818-4925.
This review was also featured in the August 2, 2018 Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.