Farm House Cafe is a true French classicRestaurant Review Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Celebrating their three year anniversary this February, Farm House Café is led by one of the most genuine couples I have met in years. Chef Olivier Bioteau, along with his wife Rochelle, are the powerhouse team that brought their dream to the San Diego dining scene. Both with impressive resumes spanning over 20 years of international restaurant experience, they each bring a passion for food and wine, coupled with Chef Olivier’s incredible global culinary background, to a little spot in University Heights.
Chef’s humility is just as impressive as his culinary background and is reflected in his cuisine. Trained in top Michelin starred restaurants in France, the menu is just as native to the Loire Valley as the Chef himself. Simple clean flavors come together to create spectacular menus that change almost daily. You can taste the farm fresh ingredients Chef uses to make everything from scratch. Start off with the ever popular Farm House Café Flatbread ($10.00). Every inch is covered with perfectly caramelized onions, crispy bacon, topped with a peppery arugula and finished with a balsamic reduction drizzle.
If you are a lover of Chicken Liver Mousse ($10.00), and even if you’re not, this is the best around by far. Classically served with grainy mustard, house pickled vegetables and a crispy baguette, the creamy mousse is rich in flavor and light in texture. Of the many times I have been there, the California Burrata ($11.00) has had many versions. Some nights it has been served with succulent heirloom tomatoes so fresh I swear he grows them in his backyard. Other times, the delicate Burrata comes with spring onions, arugula and sprinkled with orange scented bread crumbs. Whatever version you see when you get there, order it, it will be delicious.
Reviewing the entrees is such a challenge, since I have never had the same one twice, which is a refreshing part to this restaurant. Over the course of three years, I probably have eaten over 15 different entrees, and not one has been disappointing. On a recent visit with my parents, I feasted on one of the daily specials. Not even having a name for the dish, Chef came out to my table and explained it with his French accent. A leg of Duck Confit came to my table and was served atop some Beluga Lentils. Outside of France, I have never had a duck so crispy. The lentils were cooked to perfection with just the right bite to them. They had soaked up the meat juices allowing the flavor to explode in your mouth. This dish was worthy of a Michelin star, as was the Cassoulet I had months prior. Even my very Italian father raved about the Housemade Fettuccine ($16.00). Done in a French Bolognese style with Moroccan spiced lamb, Parmigiano Reggiano, and candied lemon zest. I have never had candied lemon zest in a savory dish before, but its addition proved once again that Chef Bioteau is one of the best chef’s in San Diego. It brought the dish to a whole better level.
With the menu changing all the time, the one thing that remains constant is the service. As an attorney by day and restaurateur by night, Rochelle brings her experience from working the floor for years at Laurel to run the front of house at The Farm. The majority of the staff is original from the first few months of the restaurant’s opening; an incredible feat in any industry. When you go, you can easily tell that this is a restaurant family. Everyone works together delivering food, pouring wine, clearing plates, all with no attitude, but with giggles and a genuine care for you. The warm homey feel that Olivier and Rochelle wanted to create, succeeded and is passed down from them to the entire staff. Each and every staff member is knowledgeable about the menu, the wine list and everything in between. They are truly a class act.
You won’t go away from Farm House Café thirsty, either. It is probably one of the only places left in San Diego where you can go and order some amazing French wines. I’m not talking about ‘82 Bordeaux’s where you need to skip a mortgage payment to pay the bill, but instead well chosen regional wines that not only have quality in taste, but also in their price. Laid out by varietal, the 50 or so bottles listed match perfectly with the rustic cuisine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, or even for a taste as everyone there enjoys sharing the experience of food and wine with you. And now, every Tuesday and Wednesday, they offer half off all bottles and glasses. That’s the best deal in town.
To top off your Farm House Café experience, Chef Olivier is a certified Chocolatier. Not only is every dish made from scratch, the chocolate is too. As with the menu, the chocolates change every day. The unique candies can be filled with anything from fruit to caramel to spiced peppers. A definite must when you visit.
The LGBT community is so embraced by The Farm. There is no pretense or question about who you are when you come here. Every time you walk through the front door, you are welcomed as if you just walked into their house. Hugs are a natural thing here. Rochelle makes sure you are enjoying everything, and Chef pops out of the kitchen frequently to talk to people at the dining bar, or to roam around the table’s smiling and talking about his dishes. It’s a family business, a modern family. And when Chef comes around with his chocolates to share, all you need to say is “Oui Chef.”
Farm House Café
2121 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116
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