Since I've moved down to Richmond I've been intrigued by a storefront near my office at 1217 E. Cary St. For months coming soon was plastered in the window but slowly things were happening inside. Weeks before the opening, Urban Farmhouse established themselves on twitter, which only increased my interest in the restaurant that promised "locally sourced seasonal food and organic coffees & teas." Finally about a month ago, it opened! I checked it out on the first day it opened, stopping by as I walked past going to work.
Fresh bread and pastries.
I loved this container of animal crackers at the register.
Cozy couches and tables.
The market had a variety of food items, along with some lip balms and other simple beauty products. While small, you could theoretically come in and pick up everything you need for a simple meal from nonperishables. There are no produce, meat or dairy on sale, though the Farmhouse does sell fresh bread.
On to the food, for my first visit since it was morning I just grabbed a chai and the toast and jam option. There was an option of bread and I of course choose the delicious sourdough roll option. While delicious, it was extremely pricey for bread and jam. I did get about half a pear and a quarter of an apple in fruit slices, but the cost was high even for organic produce. I'm also doubtful of the local organic pear in January and wish Urban Farmhouse did a better job of listing where their food comes from. The chai was fine but I think if I'm just getting coffee or tea, I'll stick to Shockoe Espresso.
More food reviews and ethical debates after the jump.
About a week later I stopped by to get takeout for a lunch meeting. I was there before the lunch rush, ordering around 10:50 (for a 11am meeting!) and was hoping that I would be in an out in 5. Sadly, my order took a bit long than that (my bread and jam had taken 10 minutes but I gave them a first-day pass on that one.) The salad was solid, with good dressing. It was a lemon-cesar so less creamy than usual, perhaps due to being egg-less. (Thus possibly vegan if you don't order chicken.) The chicken was the biggest disappointment, it was dry and seemed less fresh than I expect from a local-food place. Without it, however, it wouldn't be a very satisfying meal. This was the least strong of the three meals.
This past week, I stopped in without planning ahead (thus the Blackberry picture.) I found myself very satisfied by this meal- a cuban and farmhouse salad. The cuban was great with a huge slice of pork and delicious Virginia ham. The pickles were delicious and added great flavor. The salad was also well done, with a good amount of orange pieces. My only complaint was that the dressing hadn't been tossed with the salad, instead it was just drizzled on top, which made it a bit hit or miss for having dressing on my lettuce.
Overall, I liked the meals I had there. The prices are high, which is largely due to the organic and local sourcing of food. I felt in some cases the prices could be slightly lower but I imagine the location is an expensive one as well (and likely low dinner crowds, though unlike a lot of nearby places, they are open for dinner.) Local Richmond blogger Babs Wilber felt the meals were small, finding herself hungry again 3 hours later, perhaps because she got the grilled cheese. She said she thought the chips were homemade, but I think they were salt and pepper Kettle Chips. I liked that I still got the chips with the combo deal, some places cheat you out of that. For more delectable images of their food, check out Farmhouse Goodies.
My favorite part was the beautiful design of the place and how the sustainable elements of the design were communicated.
Not so awesome was the prominence of bottled water. I understand that some people really want bottled water, and I don't really oppose selling seltzer or other bubbly water, but the bottled water was everywhere. Not cool, local sustainability place, not cool.
They won me back a bit on the beautiful bathroom, however. I kind of wished I could eat my meal in there (joking! Kind of.)
All in all, I'll be back but the high costs means it won't be as frequently as I'd like. I hope that they continue to improve the speed of service so they get heavy lunch traffic and they better convenience all of us of their sustainability and value. Twice when I've been in, the owner, Kathleen Richardson, was behind the counter and was incredibly friendly so I hope her passion for her business makes The Urban Farmhouse a success.