Farmhouse on North has several distinct environments all under one roof. From the front, it feels like a quaint farmhouse on a quiet residential street. Through the front door is a cozy three-season porch with wicker furniture draped in plaid and decorated with adorable rustic embellishments to really impress upon the visitor their farm-to-table ethos.
Once inside the restaurant, the rural aesthetic blends with a contemporary, almost gallery presentation; colorful cow portraits are dotted throughout the room and one wall is floor-to-ceiling patterned turf. It’s a very cool touch that implies the hip intersection of organic, traditional, and contemporary ideas at play within these walls and on this menu. The dining room at the back of the building is more intimate with a collage of gold framed mirrors decorating the back wall and sleek wharf lanterns creating an atmospheric glow. Upstairs in the Hayloft is where things get lively. Half of the room is a large bar with a nice selection of locally brewed beers. The wood paneling of the room and the warm, genial vibe give it the strongest feel of spending an evening in a country home.
We started, as most do, with an order of white cheddar Cheese Curds. They come to the table fryer-fresh. The batter is crisp and the cheese is perfectly chewy making them decadent without feeling at all greasy. With each dish that came to the table we were introduced to a slight twist on expectations, something that separated the Farmhouse version from every other version of the dish out there. With the curds, it was an extraordinary house made chipotle ranch dipping sauce. An unexpected blast of dill tartness hits first before moving into creamy ranch and a sneaking heat that builds with each bite.
The Smoked Lollipop Lamb Chops were absolutely adorable. They earn their moniker by being bone-in, so the bone acts as the lollipop stick for a few delectable bites of smoked lamb drizzled with wildberry sauce made from fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Of course, that was on the night we were there. With Farmhouse’s ethos as a farm-to-table restaurant they’re all about fresh, seasonal ingredients that can be sourced as locally as possible. So these precious chops are just as likely to be paired with some tasty mint jalapeno jam as the wild berry drizzle; it just depends on their finds and their fancies. The éntree also came with a side of jicama and bell pepper slaw, bright on the palate with a lovely lurking spiciness from red onions and some seriously strong parsley.
A farm-to-table concept is the last place you want to ignore the salad menu. Not only are their ingredients always extremely top of the line, but the offerings are usually more considered. We had the Tomato & Cucumber salad, and though the name couldn’t be more simple, the farm lettuce was fresh and organic, and it earns an lovely Asian vibe with a house made toasted sesame dressing. The real twist here was slices of battered and fried jalapeno pepper sparingly spread throughout the salad. It’s surprisingly enjoyable to transition from the refreshing garden flavors whenever you stumble upon a pocket of savory spice.
The biggest surprise of the entrees was that the meats were already cut into bite-sized pieces on the plate. We could immediately see that they’d cooked our entrees to our desired specifications and dove right in. The Hanger Steak is a Farmhouse staple, and with good reason. It’s got a tantalizing grill-kissed crisp to the outside and is juicy and tender inside. Its inherent richness is emphasized with a balsamic reduction sauce that adds a delectable sweetness to the aftertaste. Roasted broccoli and chopped red onion reset the palate between bites and a side of rustic tarragon potatoes play with a volley of sweet and herbaceous.
The Pork Tenderloin is also sliced prior to arrival and delivered alongside similarly sized chunks of glazed apple. The sauce has a cinnamon lilt, and the soft roasted apples combine perfectly with the succulent pork. This is autumn on a plate—especially when combined with sweet potato hash, also roasted until much of the sweetness is removed giving it a lovely umami flavor. A side of broccoli slaw adds to the orchard picnic flavors with the crunch and cream of a classic coleslaw.
The cocktail menu is as invigoratingly seasonal as the rest of the menu, so our early autumn visit had a very different set of offerings than your late autumn/early winter selection. The Peppered Strawberry Basil cocktail combined Blaum Brothers vodka, lemon juice, house made peppered strawberry syrup, and muddled fresh basil. It’s tart on the tongue with a grapefruit brightness, like grapefruit lemonade over ice. The pepper comes through as a latent flavor at the back of the throat and the basil appears toward the bottom of the glass to shift the ambience from fruit to herbs.
The Bourbon Peach & Blueberry Crumble is as farm fresh a dessert as we’ve ever had. It arrived in a roasting hot skillet, oven softened sliced peaches and handfuls of blueberries underneath a delicate layer of oats and brown sugar crumble. The roasting process pulls out some of the fruits’ natural sweetness, making the dish more tart and savory, but the kitchen replaces the sweetness in the form of a big scoop of melting vanilla ice cream. It’s sweet, savory, and tastes like an excellent ending to a harvest meal.
Farmhouse is located at 117 North Avenue in Barrington, 847-387-3408, farmhouseonnorth.com.