We planned on doing dinner in the OC last night with some friends, but at the last minute, plans changed. We hadn't gone grocery shopping for the week (and we really haven't eaten out other than In-N-Out since we adopted our little Bella), so we really needed to get out to dinner. We turned to Farmshop LA just a stone's throw away from us at the Brentwood Country Mart at the border between Santa Monica and Brentwood. Apparently Farmshop (and The Brentwood Country Mart in general) is a good celebrity-spotting location, unless of course you decide to go on the night of the Golden Globes!
Farmshop is a half cozy and upscale restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and half gourmet market with a large California wine selection and specialty food products from around the world, including the Pacific Northwest (we saw Skillet Bacon Jam and Mama Lil's Peppers, which made us a bit nostalgic as we browsed post-feast). Farmshop comes to us from a former chef under the famous Thomas Keller. As a result, apparently Farmshop's fried chicken recipe is very similar to Keller's famous Ad Hoc fried chicken. Lucky for us, every Sunday is fried chicken night, a three-course dinner consisting of an appetizer or salad that uses local, seasonal ingredients, fried chicken and sides, and a dessert course. Each Sunday, the menu is different, including minor variations on the fried chicken coating.
We made a reservation online at the last minute. When we arrived there weren't too many people around, but it was pretty early in the evening and started to fill up towards the end of our meal. Service was excellent and attentive from start to finish. Despite the $48 per person price tag, this meal was definitely worth it. The portions were surprisingly generous (there was enough for Dustin to take some home for lunch the next day...and we ate a lot), the tastes were unique and spot on, and the whole staff was incredibly friendly.
Our meal began with a roasted squash puree with pumpkin, toasted pine nuts, a quince compote, baby kale, and Japer Hill Alpha Tolman cheese. You know me and my love for anything squash, so I enjoyed this dish quite a bit. But it was not as stellar as what was yet to come.
Next came the holy grail, the fried Jidori chicken. This week was the basic herb crust, but they also have a spicy North African version, an Old Bay seasoned version, and a fennel version (I have a feeling we'd really like the fennel version). The brine made the inside of the chicken perfectly juicy, while the outside was crisp and the perfect thickness to give you a hearty crunchy exterior that isn't grossly hard or greasy like fried chicken easily can turn into.
Alongside the chicken was a roasted potato salad with charred leeks, fennel, and harissa creme fraiche and roasted brussel sprouts with house-picked chiles, cipollini onion, and grapes. I took only a very small spoonful of the brussel sprout dish, not expecting to find it very attractive, but it blew me away, and I was quickly going back for another heaping helping.
Even though we were stuffed, it was time for dessert. Last night, there were two options, and we tried one of each on the recommendation from our waiter. First was the salted caramel chip sundae that consisted of a rich flourless chocolate cake, banana mousse, and peanut shortbread as well as caramel sauce and a few other garnishes escaping me at the moment. The flavors were simple, yet harmonious. Honestly, splitting this one dessert would have been enough, but we still had another one to go— Holland's Family Marieke Gouda with pumpkin pie marshmallows, vanilla bean goat caramel, and pecan nutcakes. This dish is probably not one we would have ordered off a more extensive dessert menu; however I'm very glad we tried it. Even though the menu listed some sweet elements, we expected the dish to feel more like a cheese course. But it wasn't. The goat cheese caramel was tangy, unique, and slightly sweet, which spread perfectly on top of the nutcake with a bite of the gouda. I was pleasantly surprised with how well all of those flavors went together as a dessert. I'm not exactly sure how the pumpkin pie marshmallows fit in. To me, the dish might have been better off without them, but maybe that's just me.
We left Farmshop with full, happy bellies, and can't wait to go back to try the brunch menu!