Farm to Fork Eatery, Sherwood Park – Restaurant Review

A restaurant offering farm-to-fork food is one thing; naming a restaurant Farm to Fork, is quite another. There will be no room for shortcuts; if there is even a sniff of a suggestion that ingredients are coming from, say, GFS, and not a local farmer, the restaurant risks a swift and merciless public reaction. See Liane Faulder’s recent article on that topic.

To add to the risk factor, Jason Halabi (whose background is in investments and financial advisement) opened Farm to Fork Eatery in a suburb far away from a large customer base in Edmonton. People from the ‘burbs have no problem driving to Edmonton for food but people from Edmonton don’t often make the trek to the ‘burbs, come feeding time. The positive side is that in this suburb of Sherwood Park where fast food and ‘fast casual’ restaurants proliferate, a restaurant such as Farm to Fork could be salvation to people wanting to support the local food movement.

Jason Oliver is in charge of the kitchen—he of the curiously short-lived Prairie Noodle post—and who recently secured second place in Vue Weekly’s (quirky) 2016 Golden Fork Awards Best Chef category: right behind Daniel Costa of Corso 32 et al, and above Blair Lebsack of Rge Rd.

I’ve dined three times at Farm to Fork and will say one thing: the food has certainly improved since my first visit which was so horrendous it took me two months to work up the courage to try again.

1st visit: Looking for a morsel of cooked meat in my raw burger
1st visit: Looking for a morsel of cooked meat in my raw burger.
IMG_9172
Tough wild boar belly with dry mac ‘n cheese and a side of dry pulse stew.

I returned because I like to support restaurants that support the local food movement. The second time was a better experience but for all the talk and rah-rah coming out of the kitchen and on social media, the food still failed to impress.

IMG_0375
Second visit: Fish and chips – bland batter, soggy chips, perfectly cooked fish.
IMG_0376
Croque Madame – crisp fries, perfect egg, oddly flavoured sauce (or cheese?).
IMG_0377
A re-worked pulse stew that (still) wasn’t working.

The restaurant has now been open five months—plenty of time for them to fine-tune the food and find their groove, so a few days ago, I went for visit number three.

Tabbouleh Salad
Tabbouleh Salad  $15 – unconventional and interesting

 

Mussels in 'made in house' clamato broth
Mussels $11 – in a ‘made in house’ clamato broth
Smoked wild boar belly with roasted vegetables and fingerling potatoes
Smoked wild boar belly $31 – with roasted vegetables and fingerling potatoes.
Stuffed and wrapped pork loin $29 with roasted vegetables and wild mushrooms
Stuffed and wrapped pork loin $29 – with roasted vegetables and wild mushrooms.
Piecacken $8 - bumbleberry pie inside cherry moonshine cake, topped with a cream cheese icing
Vanilla porter (Jacek) chocolate ice cream $8, and Piecaken $8 (bumbleberry pie inside cherry moonshine cake, topped with a cream cheese icing).

It was a relatively palatable, albeit hefty, meal in price and calories. Improvements were noticeable and they deserve credit for effort;  85% of their product comes from local (B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan) producers. That’s something of which to be proud.

Many restaurants attempt the farm-to-fork philosophy but few are prepared to hoe this particularly difficult row.  The ones who succeed don’t just wear the mantle of the movement; they are the movement, and, it’s not just the chef that has the knowledge and believes in the philosophy; everyone who draws a pay cheque at Farm to Fork has to live, eat, and breathe their namesake if they want to be long-standing, respected participants in this restaurant genre. They’ve got a ways to go, yet.

For more details on the food, listen to my review of Farm to Fork here on CBC Edmonton AM.

Author: Twyla Campbell

World-wide wanderer, CBC Edmonton AM Restaurant Reviewer, Member of Edmonton’s Slow Food convivium, oenophile, epicurean explorer and a freelance writer whose works have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including More, Above & Beyond, Avenue (Edmonton), Up Here, Northern Flyer, Opulence, City Palate, the Edible Prairie Journal, The Edmonton Journal, Slow Food Canada, Lifestyle Alberta, and on Slow Food Edmonton’s website. Grant MacEwan University (Professional Writing Program) Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree (in progress). I’m a Tweeter @wanderwoman10