Farmhouse VIP Dinner

September 10, 2015

Last week Farmhouse Chicago hosted a special Midwestern inspired tasting dinner with beer pairings. Farmhouse opened in 2011 in River North, and also has a location in Evanston. Partners Ferdia Doherty and TJ Callahan also are opening Farm Bar at the end of September in the former Wellington's space in Lakeview (my 'hood!). Farmhouse includes a cozy, farm-inspired dining room, 85% of which was created with repurposed materials from Chicago area bars and restaurants.

Farmhouse's menu features scratch cooking, as well as more than 28 local beers on tap. They also have developed two of their own ciders, crafted from fruit on the farm they own. The farm, Brown Dog Farm in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, includes over 140 apple, cider apple, pear, peach and cherry trees, as well as berries, walnuts, hazelnuts, and bee hives! Executive Chef Eric Mansavage's menu features the farm's bounty, as well as items from local farms across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. They even have a mini-farm on their roof with flowers and herbs!

Farmhouse Chicago
Brown Dog Farm Photo: Farmhouse Chicago

The menu we enjoyed was crafted by Executive Chef Eric Mansavage who has been with Farmhouse since the beginning. It was truly a unique experience as all dishes we tried are not currently on Farmhouse's menu. Each of the five courses was paired with a complementary beer or cider.

Our first course was an amuse-bouche of rye toast with Ellis Family Farms green grapes, Swan Creek pork belly, nut butter, blue mustard seeds, and chilies from Farmhouse's rooftop garden. The pork belly and nut butter went perfectly together, while the mustard seeds cut the sweetness. This course was served with one of Farmhouse's own ciders, the Free Priscilla made with Liberty and Priscilla apples from their farm. The cider is 100% organic and bone dry, almost like a white wine. Typically I do not enjoy cider, but because this was so dry and not sweet, it was wonderful!

Farmhouse Chicago
Grapes and Pork Belly Amuse-bouche
Farmhouse Chicago
Free Priscilla Cider
Photo: Farmhouse Chicago

Course two was a Green Acres Farm chilled melon soup with a summer poolish salad, spiced yogurt, njuda, and mint. The soup had a nice kick to it and a beautiful orange-yellow hue from the cantaloupe puree. Chef paired the soup with a 3 Floyds Calumet Queen Kolsch, which nicely cut the spice from the soup.

Farmhouse Chicago
Chilled Melon Soup
Next, we moved into the more substantial dishes of the evening, including this grilled Rushing Waters rainbow trout with black garlic roasted tomatillos, black bean relish, and Swan Creek bacon lardon. The skin-on fish was definitely a crowd pleaser--we all seemed to love the flaky fish and roasted tomatillos. Also, bacon never hurts! The trout was paired with the only beer on the menu I had already tried, Revolution's Rosa hibiscus ale. The beer's floral notes complemented the salty, richness of the bacon and beans.

Farmhouse Chicago
Grilled Rainbow Trout
Course four was my absolute favorite, BBQ braised shortribs with butter poached Indiana shrimp, Hazzard Free Farm pimento cheese, popcorn grits and sweet corn. Yes, chef made grits out of corn and they were phenomenal, as was the sweet corn. I loved the surf and turf take and the buttery shrimp and pimento cheese. There was a ton of flavor and color as well. Not only was this my favorite dish, it was paired with my favorite beer of the evening, Dark Horse's Smells Like a Safety Meeting IPA (which apparently is code for "smells like weed"!).

Farmhouse Chicago
Shortribs, Shrimp, & Popcorn Grits
You probably know I'm a big fan of dessert and our dessert course did not disappoint. We enjoyed a peaches and cream ice cream sandwich with Mick Klug Farm Michigan peach marmalade, milk jam & ice cream, and homemade vanilla bean shortcake cookies. This was a delicious and beautiful ending to our meal. Our last beer pairing was Penrose's Deminimus Mandarina, a session sour with tangerine, mango and Bavarian Mandarina hops.

Farmhouse Chicago
Peaches & Cream Ice Cream Sandwich
The farm dinner at Farmhouse was truly unique. I enjoyed being able to hear where all of the components of our dishes came from, and from the chef himself! Each dish had many facets of flavor, color, and texture that made the meal a wonderful experience!

Note: my meal at Farmhouse Chicago was complimentary; however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Farmhouse Chicago
228 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60654
Farmhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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