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The Farm on Adderley

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The Farm on Adderley

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Address: 1108 Cortelyou Rd (Westminster St)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Zip: 11218
Phone: (718) 287-3102
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Cuisine: American
2nd Cuisine: Comfort Food
Area: Ditmas Park
Entree Price: $10-15



Last year sometime, my friends Kiri, Court and I went to brunch at a place we’d heard great things about in Williamsburg. It was called Sweetwater, and we absolutely loved it. It had a great vibe, and the food was spot on. There were piles of fluffy eggs studded with chorizo, sides of Merguez, a frittata with Fontina, broccoli rabe, locally-made sausages, and a potato hash of some sort. While I don’t remember exactly what we had, I do remember that we hung around for quite a while because Court was not content to leave without eating more. And so he ordered again. He was in love with the food. (And possibly with a young woman knitting at the bar. Court is easily taken with young women in the “arts.”) I went back to Sweetwater a few weeks later for dinner with my friends Adam and Ben and we had an equally stellar experience. I was hooked. And then I heard that the chef had left. Hate that. Culinary heartbreak hurts. Anyway, last week, Julie, Kathy and I headed out to Ditmas Park, to a place with great word of mouth called Farm on Adderley, and I learned that the chef was none other than Thomas Kearney, who was the chef at Sweetwater in Williamsburg. Reunited, and it feels so good… Farm on Adderley is owned by Gary Jonas and Allison McDowell, first-time restaurateurs and two-year residents of Ditmas Park who noticed a growing population of young hungry singles and families and stepped in to oblige. They should get an award for best restaurant debut. This place is SWEET! The Farm (as it is known locally) is a great neighborhood haunt—an American bistro with a just enough of a hip, urban vibe. It sports original tin ceilings, a convivial bar and lounge up front lit with bare bulbs the size of grapefruits, and a long dining room flanked by an exposed brick wall on one side and a plane of glossy wood paneling on the other. In the back, a walled-in garden awaits the Spring. The name of the restaurant comes from a saying back home where Jonas grew up in Capetown where Adderley is a major thoroughfare. The saying, “If that ever happens, I’ll buy you a Farm on Adderley,” is one that has the same meaning as “Yeah, right. When pigs fly.” Indeed, that is probably the response Jonas and McDowell received when they told their friends and family about their intention to open a restaurant on Cortelyou Road, but hey, they did it, and let me say how happy I am that they did. I would take the Q train once a week for those fries—skin-on thick-cut potatoes fried so that they are crunchy and the darker side of golden. The curry mayo they come with is an innovative companion that adds a note of warm sweet spice. But I’d eat them plain. I’d eat them straight from the fryer. I may need a support group. Beyond the fries, there are other riches to this menu, a happy read that reflects the sort of soulful home cooking that you wish someone were in your kitchen making for you every night. For instance, a thick slice of a terrine made from root vegetables ($7)—Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and baby carrots—is bright and zippy in flavor, not somber and earthy as you might think. It is served with a mesclun salad dressed in a straight-forward vinaigrette that was simple and correct, the right balance of high (acid) and low (olive oil). Getting these smaller details right, especially in a fledgling restaurant, is the stuff that impresses me. But the service was also impressive. It is that perfect balance of friendly, knowledgeable, and adorable. Our waitress, a cute 20-something with pigtail braids who addressed us with a “Hey, girls,” balanced her sweetness with fierce wine and food knowledge. I’ll admit it. I had a total girl crush on her. I’ve told Craig already. He’s in favor. Boys will be boys. Anyway, back to the food. An appetizer of sweet potato gnocchi comes well dressed in brown butter, Parmesan and a flurry of shaved brussel sprouts. The gnocchi were quite substantial, cut into large dumplings the size of mini frankfurters, and while I loved the combination of the brussel sprouts, butter and cheese, some counterpoint—some acidity, smokiness, or heat—would be nice to balance out all that richness. The dish was too round; it needed some edges. Kearney does a few daily specials and we couldn’t resist two of them—calamari stew served over cracked wheat in a smoky mussel broth ($14) and braised oxtail Roman style served over basmati rice ($18). The calamari stew tasted like a bouillabaisse from Marseille that got crossed with a fish stew from Spain, stocked with fine sea creatures in a wildly rich and smoky broth. While I loved the flavor of it, the oxtail could have used a better butcher job. It was served on the bone and it was quite fatty which made it quite difficult to get to the meat. Once you did, you were good to go, and that basmati rice was silky and fragrant, a righteous, elegant foil to the earthy braised beef. The smash hit of the night—other than those fries—was the roasted chicken ($15), a French-cut breast that is served with a tangy braised cabbage that was vinegary and bright and almost pickle-like in its intensity (YUM), and a pile of wonderful chive spaetzle that was crisped up in a sauté pan, a touch that I really love. But the chicken could have stood up on its own. It had a surprisingly fresh and peppery kick from the skin and the moist white flesh. The three of us just kept repeating, “This is so good and fresh and peppery,” over and over again. We’ve had more stimulating conversations, sure, but the truth has never been so accurate. And yes, there is a burger ($11), a juicy meaty patty of some substance sandwiched inside an oversized English muffin and topped (for an extra buck) with a glorious fried egg. That is Craig’s favorite way to eat a burger—topped with a fried egg. I’ve promised to return with him so he can have one, and so that I can again become one with those fries. I know you think I must be exaggerating about the fries, but I am not. Get on a Q train after work and go see for yourself. You will thank me. Or hunt me down because you too will need a 12-step program to wean yourself off of them. And to match the American sensibility of the restaurant, the bar serves many local wines from Long Island, in addition to some gems from those other lands like France, Spain and Italy. And speaking of the bar, it is a cozy, chatty neighborhood hang, where grey-haired couples sit with young hipsters. But it’s not just diversity of age that you’ll find. The racial diversity of the neighborhood is also on display—black, white, beige, brown, and everywhere in between. There’s something very comforting and right about being in a restaurant that reflects the true diversity of its constituency. As we shared had a few desserts—an apple crisp with vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate mousse topped with salted cream (both were divine)—I considered another order of fries. But then, too much of a good thing is not always advisable. I decided to wait, and instead leaned in for another spoonful of that crisp. But I have a feeling that if I were with Court, he would have ordered the entire dinner all over again, and tried to pick up our waitress.

Review By: Andrea Strong