The lines between farm stand and restaurant are growing ever more blurry with the recent opening of Farmers Table on Forest Street in New Canaan, a hybrid farmers market, bakery and the latest restaurant to embrace the farm-to-table dining trend. Intimate in both name and practice, the tiny 6 top restaurant delivers farm fresh hospitality with a farm stand persona.
Eating at Farmers Table is like inviting yourself to dinner at a friend’s house, armed with a bottle of wine and primed for small talk. Chef/owner Robert Ubaldo has made the cozy restaurant feel as if you’ve invited yourself into his home, with fresh loaves of bread cooling on racks, bowls of fresh vegetables on the counter and conversations with fellow diners that naturally extend beyond the boundaries of each table. Chef Ubaldo previously cooked in the neighborhood at Tequila Mockingbird, as well as Southwest Cafe in Ridgefield. The local and organic produce you’ll find on the menu is sourced from his brother's upstate NY farm, John Boy in Cambridge New York, or Ubaldo’s own back yard in Pound Ridge.
The menu is short and sweet and perfectly suited for lunch, take-out or an unadorned BYOB dinner. A soup, a few salads, a short list of entrees, and two desserts were offered on a recent visit. A friend and I split each course, starting with a few hunks of freshly baked bread with rosemary and zucchini. Eating these slices of bread in their freshly baked glory turned out to be the highlight of our farm fresh evening.
A beet and goat cheese salad and an order of chicken quesadillas came out together as requested. The salad, a pile of roasted beets, goat cheese, walnuts, and lettuce was lightly dressed and nicely executed. This marriage of beets and fresh greens and goat cheese we all know so well is a welcome way to embrace some of the last fresh greens of the summer.
The quesadillas boasted a sweet and savory filling of pineapple, cheese and chicken, the technique, no doubt perfected during his tenure at Tequila Mockingbird and Ridgefield's Southwest Cafe. Soon after a bowl of heirloom tomatoes made the rounds in the dining room, and I gladly popped a few in my mouth. An appropriate amuse bouche for this split personality space that was becoming more farm stand by the moment.
Dessert beckoned and we opted for a slice of key lime pie sprinkled with delicate little bits of mango and strawberries over the other more decadent option of a flourless chocolate cake. It was a good call to end our light summer meal. The bright and creamy flavors of the pie brought our meal back full circle to the bright and light acidity of our beet salad.
I left my meal half expecting to stumble onto a tilled field and not Forest Street in New Canaan, a gentle reminder that we eat is food that comes from the earth, cultivated by very real people like the Ubaldos which doesn't necessitate the pomp and circumstance of a traditional restaurant scene.
Farmers Table packs a substantial local and organic punch into a tiny footprint, nudging the boundaries of a traditional dining experience and also raising the bar of what we may come to expect from a farm stand. It's safe to say our farm-to-table dining trend is continuing to explore its proverbial roots.
[Photography by Jeanette Chen http://jeanetteshealthyliving.blogspot.com/]
Farmers Table, 21 Forest Street, New Canaan. (203) 594-7890