Farmer's Table: Simple food with fresh, local ingredients
Published 8:55 am, Wednesday, June 1, 2011
On my grandparents’ working farm, the hands came in for lunch and supper to sit around the community kitchen table for a substantial meal of fresh, homemade breads and whatever came from the garden that day.
That childhood memory is deliciously resurrected at the Farmer’s Table in New Canaan. With a mere 12 seats, one room that doubles both as dining room and kitchen, bunches of fresh flowers stuck in milk bottles, and loaves of bread cooling on the counter, it looks a lot like a farmhouse kitchen, too.
The wait staff here is also like family, quickly remembering your name and serving like a doting mama feeding the neighborhood.
Like the farmer’s tables of my youth, chef/owner Robert Ubaldo cooks from his own garden and uses the organic pork, chicken, and duck from his brother John’s farm. Simple food with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients is the family philosophy.
Open for lunch, dinner, and takeout, the place is always bustling. Bring a nice bottle of wine, as the place is BYOB (reasonable $10 corkage fee) and the food is worth it.
The lunch and dinner menus are similar, with only portion size and price as differentials. As one might expect, the menu changes seasonally and even daily, depending upon what is best available.
We hope the chef will always offer his smoky-sweet, thick and chunky lentil-vegetable soup, and the perfectly creamy seafood chowder rife with clams, shrimp and scallops.
John Boy’s Farm poultry absolutely shines in the rich and meaty burnished duck confit plated with the kitchen’s rustic whole-grain bread, mixed baby greens and summery tomato salad.
His Berkshire pork is the basis for the gently spiced pate wrapped in smoky bacon served with grilled bread, tiny dill pickles, and mustard. Plump mussels set straight up in their shells and sprinkled with diced tomato float in a pool of buttery wine sauce.
Salads are part of nearly every starter and main course here, and the heap of greens and diced tomato somehow tastes of the late summer bounty even though the local crop is months away.
Each salad is carefully and lightly dressed, and we especially liked the light citrus vinaigrette that nicely complements the richly smoked duck breast. A mix of lentils and quinoa is tossed in balsamic dressing along with chopped avocado, tomato, and greens.
Main courses range from a zingy chicken quesadilla with sliced mango and pesto to a sophisticated pan-roasted duck breast in port wine with wild rice pilaf. Pork tacos are a winner because of the spicy, super-tender braised pork.
The mushroom ravioli is one of the more richly satisfying dishes in recent memory, with perfectly cooked ravioli plumped with wild mushrooms in a homemade pesto cream sauce.
Shrimp risotto is the real thing, with slowly cooked Arborio rice, white wine, and Parmesan cheese.
Crab cakes are nicely crusty with moist crab inside, and the cheeseburger is notable mostly for its high-quality beef and perfectly cooked French fries.
If available, be sure to try the puckery fresh Key lime pie with its delightfully crisp crust, or the satiny smooth and dark flourless chocolate cake. Both are adorned with whipped cream and a soupcon of berry wine compote. On the way out, take home a loaf of bread.
21 Forest St., New Canaan
HOURS: Lunch Monday-Saturday noon-5 p.m.; dinner Monday-Thursday 5-9 p.m.; Friday, Saturday 5-10 p.m.
CREDIT CARDS: AE, V, MC
PRICES: Dinner appetizers $3.95-$11, main courses $10.95-$24.95, desserts approximately $8