If you have terrible eating habits like me, coming up with excuses to eat junk is an all-too-easy task. Some justifications I always fall back on include class, work, certain television shows, extreme weather conditions…
Providing me with one less place to nourish my unhealthy lifestyle is Farmer’s Kitchen Café. Situated at 624 Fourth St., it turned out that I’ve passed this restaurant many times without ever having gone inside, only referring to it as “the place with the plastic floral tablecloths.”
I opted to eat my lunch alone this day. Eating by oneself can be a tricky thing: While iPods are an effective instrument for anti-socialness on buses or the library, they don’t lend themselves very well toward that certain solitary-yet-intellectual impression at restaurants. So I equipped myself accordingly with a book to occupy myself, lest I look like some sort of lone creeper.
When I first walked into the restaurant (which was empty upon my arrival at around 1 p.m.), I saw a stack of menus and picked one up, trying to adopt a casual “I’m just reading a menu” stance. Really, I was wondering whether I was supposed to seat myself. But then the hostess arrived and gestured for me to take a seat. The place was quaint and the décor was slightly kitschy but in a cutesy way – the aforementioned plastic floral tablecloths, glasses of fresh flowers as centerpieces.
The menu at Farmer’s Kitchen Café offers a wide range of entrees, most of which are organic and locally grown. The choices are very vegetarian and vegan-friendly, but not so much that it alienates the non-veggie crowd. I found that there were plenty of options that would appease any meat-eater, with dishes featuring free range chicken, fresh seafood and local pasture-raised pork.
It was lunchtime, and my focus immediately went to the sandwich section of the menu. A typical bout of indecision started to kick in, but after some consideration I decided to go with a glass of fresh raspberry lemonade and a grilled spring onion sandwich with basil sauce. I had the option to go with gluten-free sourdough bread, but I went ahead with the artisan focaccia.
My sandwich arrived about 15 minutes after I placed my order, and it came with a simple undressed side salad of mixed greens. As most of my experiences with sandwich-eating go, it was a slightly messy but delicious ordeal. The focaccia was fresh and served as a solid base to the grilled onion filling. Its crust was so crunchy that when I first bit into my sandwich, the little girl sitting at the table next to mine turned around to stare at me and continued to do so for the duration of my meal.
Though a dish featuring onions as its main component may seem off-putting to most, they had a hint of sweetness from the grilling and weren’t at all disconcerting to my meal. Even without the explicit taste, I still had suspicions that the smell of onions were sticking to my fingers and clothes for the rest of the day.
Adjacent to the Farmer’s Kitchen Café is Natural Food Works. From my seat in the restaurant, it looked like an organic, non-corporate version of a General Nutrition Center vitamin store. But a purveyor of energy supplements and protein bars it is not – Natural Food Works is a health food store that features locally grown produce and food that is prepared in their kitchen.
Although I did have a pleasant (albeit slightly lonesome) lunch at Farmer’s Kitchen Café, it’s a place better suited for a family outing with my parents as opposed to a place to catch a quick and cheap bite. Probably due to the quality of the ingredients, the prices were a bit high for the average college student, with sandwiches ranging from $10 to $13 for the larger size and entrees between $13 to $15. After paying for my meal, I remembered why I typically opt for the cheap – I usually get full too quickly before I can appreciate good food.
Lessons learned: Quality comes at a price, meals are always better with a companion and the smell of onions never fails to linger.
RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.