FarmShop, opened early May in Larkspur Landing, is an outpost of the successful restaurant of the same name located in Santa Monica that was opened in 2010. The Marin version was highly anticipated as it was sort of a homecoming for Chef-Owner Jeffrey Cerciello, who has a serious background with the Thomas Keller group, having worked his way up at the French Laundry, as opening and Executive chef of Bouchon and as director of Keller Restaurant Group’s casual restaurant division until he left in 2010. As a double bonus, Cerciello lured fellow Keller veteran Mark Hopper to join Larkspur’s FarmShop as Executive Chef. Hopper, somewhat famous for being fired by Keller after just one day as related in Grant Achatz’s book, Life, on the Line (a great read by the way), was eventually rehired by Keller. He followed a similar path to Cerciello with stints as an Executive Chef at Bouchon in Las Vegas and as director of Keller’s casual restaurant group.
With such serious credentials behind the FarmShop, the crowds instantly appeared, packing the restaurant on a nightly basis. Taking over two distinct restaurant spaces, one serves as the open kitchen with the airy dining room for reservations. Now connected, the second space is dominated by a long wooden bar and plenty of tables to accommodate walk-in diners. Speaking of the bar, this is unique to the Marin location as the original in LA does not have one. After dining on BBQ oysters at The Marshall Store and a short 4 mile hike, we made our way to the FarmShop while it was still mellow late in the afternoon.
Since we were still full from our late lunch, we decided to start with cocktails. They have classic cocktails and FarmShop originals, which feature small batch spirits and farm fresh ingredients. From the originals, we got the very refreshing Tenderloin (Goldrun Rye Whiskey, Tru Orange Liqueur, muddled lemon and robada apricots, giant ice cube) and the boozylicious First Sunday (St. George Boatnivore Gin, Absinthe Verte, lemon, thyme sprig, brandied cherry garnish):
As a second round, we went with classic Rye Manhattans (Redemption Rye, Antica Carpano Vermouth) served up in a very chilled glass:
It was time to start noshing and we started with an order of Crispy Half Moon Bay Smelts served on a butterball potato salad (almost German style with vinegar), French breakfast radishes and an Arrowsmith Farm sorrel salad. Anywhere else this delicious fried fish would normally be referred to as “fries with eyes,” but these fish were headless. In either case, these were still very tasty fish fries:
We reluctantly moved on from cocktails (we did have to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to get home) and ordered this reasonably priced bottle of Eric Texier Côtes du Rhône red wine:
It was a good move since the red wine paired really well with the Crispy Artichokes served with a generous amount of burrata cheese. Thin slices of watermelon radish added a pepper flavor, green kalamata olives and fried capers added a nice saltiness while the Frog Hollow Farms robada apricots added sweetness. The lambs quarter lettuce poking out of the cheese made it look like a miniature farm on a plate. Not sure why this plate was listed as crispy artichokes since there seemed to be an equal amount of many things on the plate:
We also ordered the Cured Meats from Our Friends platter with the full intention of ordering a main dish after. But the servings of charcuterie in the forms of finocchiona, sopressa, nduja, speck and whipped lardo were so generous that we were pretty much done eating after this plate. Accompanying the delicious fatty meats were toasted bread, house made lightly sweet butter pickles and a killer duck egg salad:
As fits our style, cheese is included in the desserts part of their menu. The bartender suggested we try the Fat Bottom Girl cheese made with raw sheep’s milk by Tomales’ Bleating Heart Cheese. Served with nutty dense bread and Frog Hollow Farm’s dried stone fruit, it was a great ending for our meal:
In case you haven’t noticed, the FarmShop is also serious about their farm-to-table food; so much so that the name of the farms where they source their produce is included in the ingredients listed on the menu. By the time we left, the bar area was in full swing, with many waiting for an open seat or table (and we were definitely underdressed in our casual shorts). Our bartender told us that the bar area gets full every night by 6:30 pm, so the trick is to go early for the best chance of nabbing an open bar seat (or make reservations ahead of time). We like to hike in the Mt. Tam area so this may become our regular late afternoon post-hike watering hole. Next time, we may even make it all the way to the entrées section.
BBQ Oysters and More at The Marshall Store (Jun. 19, 2013)