Date nights have become a regular occurrence for us lately because frankly they are incredibly important. However, most of our date nights are pretty casual and sometimes they even involve running a few child-free errands. But, our last date night was one that was far from a casual affair. It was free of phones (except to snap a few photos for you), errands and our beloved children.
We were kindly invited to attend one of Farm Spirit‘s multiple course dinner seatings. Farm Spirit is the brainchild of Chef Aaron Adams, formerly of Portland vegans’ favorite, Portobello Vegan Trattoria. The restaurant focuses on thoughtful courses with the seasonal ingredients sourced almost entirely from the Cascadia region in the Pacific Northwest. Adams clearly cares about supporting local farmers and artisans, going into great detail when describing the dishes and the origins of their ingredients. Even the dishware was created by local potter Steve Kelly. Tickets for the seatings are sold in advance and are in high demand. Each seating is limited to 14 and there is only one seating each night, Wednesday through Saturday at 7pm. *Update* Starting April 6th, Farm Spirit will offer multiple seating times throughout the evening, starting at 5:15 p.m. and going as late as 8:30 p.m. The seatings will be smaller allowing for more focus and attention to be on the guests.
When you walk in each seat has a menu and a place card with your last name. The seating a is a bit unique in that all guests are seated at a communal bar and the chefs prepare and plate each one of your courses right there in front of you. You know immediately that this experience is more than just the food. Farm to table has become somewhat cliched lately but not at Farm Spirit. You come away with a great appreciation for and understanding of the ingredients, the farmers, and the process that has gone into making your meal.
Above you see the 12-course menu starting with the most amazing bread and olive oil and ending with an incredible pumpkin seed ice cream. The real highlights are all the dishes in between. But, I’ll get to that in a bit.
To go along with our meal we decided to share the wine pairing and the house-made (non-alcoholic) beverage pairing. All of the wines were wonderful. One of our favorites was the Madeira. Neil and I couldn’t get over how amazing it was and how well it paired with the last two courses. As for the house-made beverages you won’t be disappointed. They were all unique and had such a range of flavors all of which perfectly complimented their dishes. Neil has been really interested in wild fermentation lately and spent a great deal of time asking the chefs about the process that went into the drinks.
Our first dish was this bouquet of herbs and greens and a little purple carrot with the most incredible hazelnut yogurt. To eat we were instructed to use our hands, dip, our bunch and enjoy. How was it? While it almost seems a little awkward to eat at first, that dissipates quickly when you’re blown away by the variety of flavors and textures in the dish.
Another dish to highlight was the Swiss chard that was made to resemble ravioli. It was fresh, crisp and the vegetal kvass broth had me lifting the bowl to drink up every last drop. The chefs do a great job of introducing you to the dishes and reminding you to let go of your inhibitions about eating with your hands or drinking up the last of the broths in your dish.
This next dish was another one of my favorites – the roasted carrot with burdock root puree. As a home cook, this was one of the less intimidating dishes. It’s one that I’m inspired go home and recreate, maybe not to the same caliber, but I could still do it.
I have to say of all the dishes this last one is my favorite. Tim’s bread was the star of the night for me. I could have easily eaten an entire loaf of the vollkornbort with the soured filbert puree and of those pickled onions and mustard seeds.
As the evening wound down the dessert courses are presented and your hot beverage order is taken. The offerings include coffee from local roasters Cellar Door, tea from Steven Smith, and a house-made hot drink. Once everyone has cleared their plates the chefs give you a warm thank you and a sweet breakfast bread to take home to enjoy with your morning coffee or tea. Such a sweet and unexpected way to end a perfect dining experience.
We enjoyed our meal and experience so much that immediately upon returning home that night we booked our next visit. One thing to note when you are purchasing your dinner tickets is that dinner is around three hours long. I know three hours sounds a bit daunting but honestly you won’t want the night to end.
Have you tried Farm Spirit? What were your thoughts? If you are a local Portlander or are visiting Portland I recommend getting tickets right away you won’t be disappointed.
*I apologize for the photo quality – while the food was amazing the lighting was far from ideal for photographs!