Friday, November 7, 2014

Farm to Table - Farmer's Apprentice

Farmer's Apprentice is such a delicate little gem located on West 6th Ave, Vancouver. It easily and quickly made its way into my favorite restaurants list; however, it's impossible to make reservations there. We tried making reservations on weekday evenings a week prior, full. So our strategy is going there at its opening time, 5:30pm, on a random weekday, and wait outside till they open.

When we went this Thursday, many people were already waiting outside it's patio. Mind you, this Thursday was when Vancouver had that rain and wind storm warning. But I guess bad weather alone wasn't enough to stop customers. The picture below shows these people waiting behind the chains to the enter, we were all like hungry zombies eager to enter civilization and NOMMM #walkingdead. 

There's a small leveled and sheltered patio immediately outside of the main door. I'm sure it's so nice to eat there with sunshine. Thursday was not such a day. But some people still chose to sit outside because Farmer's Apprentice only take a very small number of walk-ins. I can't imagine how they ate because it was sooooooo rainy and windy. There was a warm heater at the patio, but still....  Again, this shows customers' dedication to this place.

We were the first two without reservation that day, so luckily we got the nice little bar table by the entrance. It was a little crammed, but comfortable enough. The entire space was filled up immediately and because the entire night was fully booked, other walk-ins had to leave with disappointment. The interior is very nicely decorated, I love it so much I even asked the owner who their designer was. He told me the space was put together by family and friends with interesting decors and art pieces. Even their washroom is nice. At the front patio, you can already feel the modern, rustic, country vibe the restaurant wishes to portray. 

Our little bar table allowed us to observe some of the behind the scenes actions. The restaurant not only has delicious and innovative dishes, but also operates very efficiently and smoothly. You can see the kitchen and all the food prepping if you sit at the bigger bar table. Everybody has his or her own roles and performed professionally. The service was great but not over-the-top. It's casual but everything comes with great quality. The experience was like a cross between a hipster and a fine dining restaurant, which was amazing.

Our fresh still water came in a tear-drop shaped glass bottle, with a rustic vintage cup
And finally, the food ! Farmer's Apprentice, like many other farm-to-table restaurants, changes its menu very often. Everything on their menu is like a pleasant surprise. Each dish is prepared in a way that really show cases the kitchen's creativity and imagination. Nevertheless, their food comes in very small portions, and somewhat pricey, which is one of the reasons why it has received some bad reviews on Urban Spoon. We didn't mind, because that only means we get to taste more dishes from the menu :D So that day, we picked one dish from each category, also with bread and dessert. As two girls, one pregnant, one eats like a pig, it filled us up satisfyingly. 

First Dish : Beyond Bread, Onion Butter, Olive Oil

It was some soft and warm sourdough bread with onion butter and olive oil with a hint of honey. This was only okay, the sourdough served at the Daily Kitchen was still the best imo. 

Pardon the ugly photos, we got really poor lighting at our spot. 

Second Dish : Beetroot, Cured Foie Gras, Hazelnut, Spruce, Watercress

Those yellow stuff on top of the beets were the cured foie gras. I would never everrrr in my life imagine eating foie gras with beets but the combination tasted like magic. This dish is one of my favorites, it was like God the chef doing tricks with your taste buds ! The greens and the nuts also added additional texture and aroma, which were so different, but combined so perfectly. I love beets and usually a regular beetroot salad will brighten my day, but THIS, this is like eating a beetroot salad wearing a 3-D glasses on your tongue ! 

Third Dish : Clams, Bone Marrow, Croutons, Bay Leaf Cream, Sorrel 

This is not bad, but is my least favorite of the day. The actual dish doesn't look as orange as the picture, but a regular bowl of cream colored fresh clams. The clams were big and fat and tasted extremely fresh, but nothing extraordinary like the second dish. The bone marrow was a bonus though - they weren't greasy and they came in CHUNKS. As fatty as it is, I love bone marrow. As a child, I often used a chopstick to pick out n devor all the marrow from those pork bones cooked in Chinese soups. Now that I'm older and a lot more health conscious, I rarely consume bone marrow anymore so these were nostalgic tasty additions that I loved in this clam dish. 

Forth Dish : Espresso Braised Beef Cheek, Anson Mill Grits, Taleggio

Okay, if this dish came first it'd be one of my favorite too, but it came last and we were both too full to really enjoy it. It tasted like very very tender beef jerky presented on a nice hill of cheesy taleggio mill grits, topped with shaved raw greens. It wasn't as light as the other dishes I've had in Farmer's Apprentice, but very flavorful and tasty nonetheless. 

Dessert : Anjou Pear, Smoked Carmel Ice Cream, Brown Butter, Sorghum

At the end of our forth dish, we were both stomach-bursting full, but Melissa was so relieved to hear that I wanted dessert too, and so we did. One of the best life decisions I've made. The dessert was small - it came in 3 chunks of anjou pear, wrapped in some whimsical stuff we couldn't name, topped with a small portion of carmel ice cream and brown butter, then, all of these nested on some sorghum popcorn which I adoreddddd. Again, the textures and flavors were creating dimensions like some sort of sorcery. Okay, I might be exaggerating with my word choices, but I've never once left Farmer's Apprentice feeling any less than satisfied. 

I've also found some older pictures I took at Farmer's Apprentice before, I can't exactly recall all the ingredients but here are some eye candies for you :

Our appetizer - soft bread + cheese, nuts, grapes, and jam
Octopus - I love love love this dish and hope it will return one day
Some sort of gnocchi , don't remember what else was in there, guess it wasn't that memorable

The Most Tender Poached Salmon I've Ever Had ! This dish was so light, healthy, and wonderful.

The bill summed up to be around $35, including tips, per person, which I thought was a very reasonable price for what was offered. It also came with this beetroot truffle chocolate that concluded the dinner perfectly.

Farmer's Apprentice on Urbanspoon

Lastly, make sure you make reservations before you go, and you can also check their daily menu on their website. Bon Appetit !

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