Even I make mistakes sometimes. Earlier this summer, I had a fantastic dinner at Farmhaus. I came ready, camera in hand. As the Vietnamese chicken wings hit the table, I picked up my Nikon D750, got into position, then...nothing. For the first time in my food blogging career, I forgot to put the battery in my camera. Embarrassing.
Not one to make the same mistake twice (except for all the times I've done that), I triple checked my camera before last week's trip to Farmhaus. Battery, memory cards, lens: it was all there.
Not documenting a meal at Farmhaus is a shame. Farm-to-table dining has grown in St. Louis, but nowhere makes me feel that more than Farmhaus. Their relatively simple menu changes with what's in season or what chef Willmann caught on his fishing trip.
Places like Niche and Sidney Street are also using seasonal ingredients, of course, but the food at Farmhaus has a more casual, homey feel to it. This includes the staples; you'll always find the bacon-wrapped meatloaf and "breakfast", but the dish components are different every time (I still look back lovingly at the time they had blood sausage with their Breakfast plate).
Their roasted Ozark Forest mushroom salad is a must-order for us. The thing has huge hunks of Baetje Farms' mild goat cheese, toasted pecans, roasted mushrooms, and a warm bacon vinaigrette. Fucking up a salad with those ingredients—especially a bacon vinaigrette!—would be hard.
It seems that we came on a day where chef Kevin Willmann and his team had just gotten a big shipment of a blue crabs in, seeing as 3 of the apps had them in them. Our flight of crab started with blistered shishito peppers and crab claws, topped with katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and a citrusy ponzu sauce. I never had anything quite like this in Japan, but I could totally see it being served at a bar in Tohoku.
I can't believe I've never had fried crab claws before. The so-called "crab cocktail fingers" were lightly battered and served with a citrusy yuzu mayo. I'm totally stealing this idea.
The "West Indies", a dish composed of lump crab meat, compressed watermelon, corn, jalapeños, and lime was my least favorite of the whole meal. I love simplicity, like the fried claws, but this just didn't have any strong flavors to it. It reminded me of something I'd make with leftovers after a crab boil.
I'm fairly certain the porchetta bao have been on the Farmhaus menu in one form or another for quite some time, but I'd never had them before. Time to change that! It was like eating a corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich at a non-Kosher Asian deli.
The guy at the table next to us didn't like his. I wish he'd given them to me.
Even though Farmhaus has a number of meat options, I always, always go for their fish entrees. They've just got 'the touch' with seafood. The meaty Gulf red grouper was grilled beautifully, served with a local vegetable succotash and spoonbread (I would happily eat a plate of just Farmhaus spoonbread). The sauce was a preserved tomato creme, which paired perfectly the fish and veg.
Farmhaus' pastry chef, Sarah Mispagel, killed it with her sweet corn cake dessert. Growing up, we'd often have cornbread with dinner, which I would smother with blackberry jelly and/or honey. This is essentially that, made into a fancy little dessert with blackberry ice cream and sunflower seed streusel. There was nothing left.