BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
After being told there was no room (when there clearly was), at our first choice for dinner. My dinner mate and I luckily stumbled upon Friend of a Farmer a few doors down. Walking into a cottage-like place, we were greeted by a fireplace, baskets full of apples and butternut squash, and flowery wall paper reminiscent of an old bed and breakfast nestled in the Catskills. Immediately I loved the place.
We sat down and were greeted by an attentive waiter who suggested many things on the menu. His enthusiasm for the food was refreshing and we decided to start off with a bottle of the highly recommended Arrogant Frog Pinot Nior and a cheese plate. The cheese plate, complete with a blue cheese and warm fig jam and a slice of mild parmesan, along with two other cheeses was nothing adventurous, but an excellent start to the meal.
After drooling over the entire menu, comprised of comfort food ranging from braised lamb shanks to chicken pot pie to mac and cheese, we decided to keep it light and share a couple of appetizers. We settled on the turkey meatballs with a fig chutney ($12) and the crab cakes with corn salsa and chipotle aioli ($13). The turkey meatballs came out hot and were surprisingly light, with the fig chutney and a bite of meatball I was transported to Thanksgiving day in the country. A slightly different take on your traditional roast turkey and cranberry sauce, this plate was a welcome taste of something familiar and comforting. Three meatballs were plenty to share between the two of us, but I wished that this dish was priced a little differently. Ten dollars perhaps? The crab cakes, or ‘cake’ if you will, was a nicely sized patty drizzled with chipotle aioli set top a bed of roasted corn salsa. The cake was what every crab cake should be. Chunks of lump crab meat, very little filler, and a lightly crisped outside. The flavors were light with the aioli accenting, not over powering.
For dessert we couldn’t pass up the homemade warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Although not the right time of year for apples, the pie was simple and executed to perfection, bringing me back to Autumn in New England.
Despite not so great reviews that I have read of Friend of a Farmer, I had a delightful experience. Perhaps because it reminded me of my childhood, bringing me back to family car trips to upstate New York to visit my grandparents as the leaves turned from green to gold. I could almost taste the memories with every bite. Most importantly though, I took Friend of a Farmer for what it is. With its tacky music selection and worn décor, it reflects where the owners come from, what makes them feel at home and what, I suppose it does for me also.