I entered Farmer Brown with some hesitation. I loved the concept of soul food using organic, local ingredients. But reports so far have been very mixed and if the fried chicken is lousy who cares if it's organic? Although there were some rough spots in the meal, overall I was impressed enough that I will definitely return.
Our meal started off great with fresh biscuits, corn muffins and pepper jelly. The biscuit was warm, soft and buttery-everything a biscuit should be. The corn muffin was grainy without being too rough and had a nice hint of sweetness. The pepper jelly had just the right amount of spice and complimented both well. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed my pre-dinner starch so much - what a welcome change from the ubiquitous Acme bread and butter.
We started with the chopped vegetable salad. Light, refreshing, excellent produce and a dressing that highlighted the vegetables without overwhelming them. A good portion, it balanced out an otherwise heavy meal.
The Mrs. and I decided to be boring so we both got the fried chicken. It was what we were craving and I figured if they can't fry a chicken well they're sunk. At this point in the meal I was extremely optimistic but with my first bite of chicken all my hesitations returned.
The breast meat was dry. The crust was perfect - crispy with an excellent spice. The chicken had a nice flavor. But the breast was dry. Fortunately, the thigh saved the day. Tender, juicy, and flavorful with a superb crust. It was so good, my only real regret was that I only got one piece of it. However, the waitress informed me that you can order all dark. So there's your caveat: order the fried chicken, but for now get all dark meat.
The mac and cheese that came with the chicken was good. Not as good as Mrs. Mousse's recipe, but nothing is. The cheese wasn't at all runny, and I liked the flavor of the cheddar it needed just a little salt. We also enjoyed a side of mashed sweet potatoes and plantains.
Though we were fairly stuffed at this point, I couldn't resist the strawberry rhubarb pie. It was a solid piece of pie, they use good fruit and it shows.
The bar has an selection of beers on tap - a rarity in SF restaurants. A Red Racer 5 IPA was perfect with my chicken and I enjoyed a glass of Black Butte Porter as a digestif following dessert.
But what really sealed the deal was the bill. One app, two entrees, one side, one dessert (all good portions) two drinks and the total was $50 before tip. I honestly can't remember the last time I had dinner in SF for $50. And we walked ot of there stuffed. Considering the quality of ingredients and the size of the portions these prices are incredible. I hope they are able to maintain them over the long term.
I will definitely return to Farmer Brown, and I look forward to exploring more of the menu. The gumbo of the day and po boy of the day both intrigued me. It will probably become my new go-to place for fried chicken. Considering the prices, the bar and the style of food it could easily become a Hound favorite if they can only smooth out the rough spots.