It seems generally agreed that the Inland Empire is a virtual culinary wasteland. However, much to my welcome surprise, I discovered Farm Artisan Foods to be an exception worth visiting and re-visiting. Located in old Downtown Redlands, Farm delivers fresh, innovative, inspired cuisine under the direction of Executive Chef Roberto Argentina. Roberto originally hails from Italy where he grew up on a farm. He later honed his skills in America under such notable luminaries as Keith Luce at Spruce (Chicago) and Joachim Splichal at Patina.
Farm’s locale and vibe is quaint, laid-back and somewhat charming. In two visits, I’ve yet to be disappointed; each time opting for the 5 course chef’s menu (~$60). The focus is upon small plates ($8-14), artfully prepared and readily shared. Among the standouts were the Mushrooms with Warm Polenta and Brie, the Roasted Quail with Polenta and Quail Egg and the Handmade Linguine with Clams and Basil Sauce. The Artisan Cheese Selection was well-balanced and tastefully presented. I recall an excellent Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery, a sharp Maytag and a delicious Santiago.
Main entrees ($18-29) included a perfectly Poached Halibut with Roasted Maui Onions and a huge, (18oz.) succulent Yucaipa Pork Chop. I look forward to the Cumin-crusted Rack of Lamb on my next visit to the area. Take note that most of Farm’s ingredients are organically grown or “minimally processed” and sourced directly from local producers. This becomes readily apparent after just a few bites. Seasonal menu changes reflect this as well.
For dessert ($5-6), the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee was one of the best I’ve had and the Aztec Chocolate Cake with Horchata Ice Cream was absolutely sublime. I must admit that I was too full to enjoy them to their fullest.
During my first visit, I enjoyed a couple glasses of Evans and Tate Sauvignon Blanc (Australia - $8). Farm’s wine selection offers a fairly wide, though not too deep, variety of solid choices by the glass, half or bottle. The second time around, corkage on my 2002 Dominus was waived. BTW, I must mention the wonderfully fresh, hot bread and creamy rich, real butter!
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my experiences at Farm; food, service and ambience. I fully appreciate that they are open 7 days and don’t shut down between lunch and dinner Mon-Sat. Sun is dinner only. Good thing, since that’s how I found Farm in the first place, open on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Definitively a delectable breath of freshness for the I.E.
Farm Artisan Foods
22 East State Street
Downtown Redlands, CA