Restaurant Review – Farmhouse Tavern Toronto,Ontario

before dinner isabel my profileWhile on a recent trip to Toronto four of us decided to make a reservation at Farmhouse Tavern- I think I reached a cell phone and got disconnected- not a good omen.

We arrived on time and the spot was busy, crowded and very loud.  It was too loud to talk and it was so crowded that it was hard to move your chair. The kitchen is open and it would be hard to ignore the expressions on the cooks’ faces and watch how they put the meals together.
Do not even ask about the table ware-

This Tavern  has the most limited menu I have ever come across. I expect perfection if this is the case.  I could not find one thing that I wanted to eat. I asked if there were specials- duck and foie gras – too much duck for me . I guess duck was on the ” chef’s” mind this Late Spring night- the menu felt more like autumn- I had no idea that beets and aubergine are part of  a “Spring Harvest”.

The waitress had to take a picture of the wine menu- all VQA wines which were marked up by far too much for the amount and taste of the wine. Stay away from the $9 small pour of Red Tractor! Beers are limited- too strong for my tastes – especially in Spring and cost $7.

I can fault this Tavern on the arrogance of the menus-  the lack of choice and the choice of menu items- out of season, not enough  selection, minuscule  portions and execution and presentation. food and beverages, on the size of the portions and on the flavour of almost all the food that we purchased at exorbitant prices.
Three ginger cocktails – with mostly ice and pulp cost $39!  Keep in mind this is “Farmhouse Tavern” – the decor matches the name- but the prices are way out of line. Who can afford to eat off a menu like this?

We shared a ploughman’s platter and when it arrived we were faced with a trio  tribute to duck. The only thing I tried were the “pickled” vegetables.  I quickly  ordered the cheese platter. Why do they serve three small pieces of bread with a $24 platter –  When I asked for more bread they charged me for it. I only discovered that when presented with the enormous bill.

I wonder why they had to deep fry the duck confit? Spring food should be fresh and taste fresh not heavy –  Beef heart? Beet stained duck egg?  the “pickled  radishes and cauliflower were tasteless and rubbery – not crisp at all.  The tiny “smears” of mustards were impossible to retrieve off the platter.  I am sure that some would like these dishes but I do not think they came together in a cohesive platter.  For $16 The cheese plate may have had 3 ounces of cheese- there were two semi soft  rind left on and one  tablespoon at best of some creamy cheese- not the variety you would expect on a well designed $ 16 cheese plate. If you want a great cheese plate that has garnishes try the Delta Chelsea’s 1865.

The menu offers no description so  you have no idea what to expect – when we ordered the “braised” lamb shank and it came deep fried like a lamb dog it was a surprise- where are all the spring veggies?  I guess you have to order a $11 asparagus plate.

Someone ordered the fish – trout – it was a very small portion and garnished with some scape type of vegetable that was inedible- too hard to put on a fork – He spent a long time chasing it around the wee plate-

Why beets everywhere? smoked at that? this is Spring after all.

My companion ordered BRAISED lamb shank it was a wee croquette and yes once again smoked beets. He was not happy with the dish at all – why deep fry a slowly braised meat?   Farmhouse Tavern likes to take meat, grind it and deep fry it. It appears in their appetizers and mains. As for me I can see offering something deep fried on the appetizer side – but not on a main which costs $22.

If I had to order a burger you know there was nothing at all  on the menu – I noticed that the waitress did not ask me how I wanted the burger done- I know that in Ontario you have to cook burgers thoroughly-a health regulation – mine was raw and I sent it back- it was more the size of a slider and for $20 it should be perfect- the bun was ordinary and soggy – perhaps from the rare juices dripping all over it. The lettuce was ICEBERG I have not seen that in years  – it made the burger impossible to close as the lettuce was round. Hidden on the bottom was  one piece of thick uncooked cold bacon.There was no discernible chunks of goats cheese – it was more of an orange spread. The french fries were served in a diner bowl and were uneven in size and in how well done they were. I am not sure what kind of potato they used but they did not taste like russets to me- The ketchup was not Heinz- I did not like it- it was either house made or cheap ketchup.
That brings me to one point- there are no sauces on any of the food- and believe me they could have used both the additional flavour and moistness.

One would think that while in Toronto a menu would have a few vegetarian offerings. My daughter is a vegetarian and ordered their Tribute to Spring –  they called it “Spring Harvest” it was smoked eggplant – it came burnt or charred and inedible- the pureé was overly smoked and spiced and lacked all the subtlety that Spring produce usually evokes- The portion was minuscule and she did not even finish her one piece of charred, tough  bokchoy.

Dessert for 2 – called “Cake” was $14.00 – a piece of plain  cake-  with a few strawberries and a small  dollop of whipped cream was disappointing – but it was probably the best thing we were served that day –

They have no finesse but pretension reigns at Farmhouse Tavern – it did not feel like a Farmhouse Tavern to me. I truly felt robbed when I left the Farmhouse tavern. For four of us to be served contrived food in such minuscule portions for $240 -add HST $270 with tip it came to $310. The waitress did not even say thank you nor was there a maitre d’ to check our food or say good bye-  Outrageous!

Until Next time ..

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