The Farmers’ Cabinet is not the sort of place to take your vegetarian friends. My date dubbed the new restaurant “the creme de la creme of mancaves,” given that the dimly lit space is adorned with animal skins and taxidermy deer heads. Add a footnote for women who don't feel bound by traditional gender roles when it comes to dinner choices and you’ve got an accurate description of the decor.
I enjoy feeling like I’m dining in Henry VIII’s court just as much as the next history major. But when I saw the Mead Hall–style table that sits 60 people and the unwieldy slabs of stone instead of plates, I was worried that the Farmers’ Cabinet would be one of those concept restaurants that focuses more on the ambiance than on the food. However, I am happy to report that even the (slightly too loud) live piano music became background noise as soon as I began eating the first few dishes and exploring their drink menu.
The Farmers’ Cabinet boasts an impressive beer list, but the mix of quirky and classic cocktails were too intriguing to pass up. My date found the Bespoke Whiskey Sour worth forgoing all the other drinks and ordered a second. The ‘Round Midnight’ however, which features dark cherry jam shaken with rum and champagne, verged on dangerously sweet but drinkable.
For appetizers we balanced the unusual Bourbon Braised Escargot ($12) with the much simpler Salt Potatoes ($5) served with a brown butter emulsion. The escargot were a bit too “bourbon–y” for my taste, but the potatoes proved once again the addictive combination of carbs, salt and fat.
We decided to indulge in Chef Felton's "wild" food for dinner. The Rabbit 2 Ways ($24) featured perfectly seared spiced saddle and maraschino braised legs. While the rabbit was perfectly good, it was still overshadowed by the Grilled Elk Strip Loin ($32). Served with seared foie gras, wild mushroom ragout and mustard smashed potatoes, the elk is a contender for the single best meat dish in the city and almost justifies the price with a portion large enough to cover lunch the next day.
With an unusually extensive menu for a restaurant serving such unique food, the brand–new Farmers’ Cabinet secured a spot on my list of restaurants worth the splurge.
The Farmers' Cabinet 1113 Walnut St. (215) 923–1113
Don't Miss: Round Midnight Cocktail, Grilled Elk Skip: …if you're a vegetarian