Too often at good restaurants, pomp and circumstance ruin pleasant meals. Kevin Klause's Farmicia is just the opposite kind of place, in the best possible way. In a city that is quickly becoming overcrowded with frou-frou eateries and theatrical restaurateurs, suddenly there appears a purveyor of high quality food in a superb atmosphere, without pretense.
Nestled in Old City, Farmicia is an airy expanse of a restaurant, with decor that is most accurately described as cluttered minimalism. Tables are spread out, and centerpieces are flower sprigs and single clementines in small baskets. The dining room feels comfortable, but also special. It's not like you're eating at home, but rather like you're in the apartment of a wealthy best friend, equipped with a talented chef and an equally talented decorator.
The concept at work here -- and Farmicia is brought to you by Wendy Smith Born and James Barrett, the owners of Metropolitan Bakery, as well as White Dog alum Klause -- is that healthy, high quality ingredients really make a meal. The cocktails are tonics, and the meal itself is split up into doses. Appetizers are "Light Doses," main courses are either "Medium" or "High Doses" and "T.V. Dinners" are not, in fact, preservative filled de-frostables; they're "totally vegetarian or vegan options." The hardest part is in the choosing; it's one of those menus on which everything looks good.
Following a Metropolitan laden bread basket (and an herbed butter!), the dishes are reasonably priced, and the portions are generous and -- for lack of a better word -- delicious. The apple & three cheddars salad ($8) comes heaped with fresh cheddars and greens, and the trio of cheeses ($12) has an accompanying fruit jam that's really exceptional.
The main courses are similarly enticing. The pan roasted mahi mahi ($18.50) is served alongside roasted fingerling potatoes, though substituting chived mashed spuds is never a bad idea. The vegetarian cassoulet ($10) is slightly white bean heavy, but still more than adequate.
The chocolate cake is to die for, and the pistachio pavlova is gorgeous, though the gingerbread leaves something to be desired. (It's not bad, per say, but one eats it with the knowledge that one could have done better.)
On Wednesdays Farmicia is a BYO, and there's a Restaurant Week-style pre-fixe every Tuesday. Still, it's not a restaurant that requires tricks and sleights of hand to lure customers -- the food is enough of a draw (as it should be).