It is no secret that, for years, I listed The Farmhouse among my favorite dining establishments in the greater Lehigh Valley. I praised not only the wonderful food, but also its ambiance and professional, unpretentious service, all served up in a glorious old farmhouse sitting on the outskirts of the quaint Borough of Emmaus.
The Farmhouse was one of the first “farm to plate” restaurants in the Lehigh Valley and current Chef Javan Small continues with this tradition using local, sustainable ingredients whenever possible. Artwork is rotated seasonally along with the menu. I liked the bold oils and acrylics by Anne Elizabeth Schlegal on display when we visited and thought the vases in the recessed window sills added a pretty touch. Much of the period artwork remains as do many of the familiar antique pieces throughout the restaurant.
Tom and I started in the Farmhouse bar where a group was engaging in a beer tasting. (For those of you who may be new to Lehigh Valley Marketplace, Tom is my husband and trusty dining companion.) Sam was on duty at the bar, and she prepared a Cosmopolitan for me while Tom joined in the tasting of seven beers on tap that night. Definitely spend a few minutes in the Farmhouse bar downstairs when you visit. It’s cozy and lively, with a great bartender to boot! There are two tables in the bar area that you may reserve if you wish to dine there.
Art Schmidt owns The Farmhouse property which has been in his family for many years. Michele Quier (proprietor of Granny Schmidt’s Bakery) has taken on the roll of co-owner and was on hand to show us to our table. Michele still runs Granny Schmidt’s Bakery out of her studio in The Barn at The Farmhouse, and many of her creations are featured on the restaurant’s dessert menu.
Michele introduced us to Greg who would be our enthusiastic server for the evening. The menu at The Farmhouse has changed and now includes a selection of “Small Plates”featuring interesting choices of appetizers and smaller portioned dishes. Tom and I shared the Carrot Ginger Soup which was absolutely delicious. The thick, flavorful soup arrived piping hot with a dollop of cold Maryland Crabmeat on top. A spoonful of rich carrot soup yielded not only the crab and fresh ginger, but also a touch of cilantro accented by the taste of medjool dates. The melding of these flavors with rich sweet pureed carrots was unique, and we both loved it. We also selected the Pulled Duck Corn Crepe listed among the small plates. The tangy tender duck was wrapped in a cornmeal-dusted crepe and served with a light Bulgogi mustard sauce all atop a tasty blackberry glaze. We enjoyed it very much. Among the “Small Plates” you will also find Tasso Ham and Chive Mac and Cheese; Madras Curry Mussels with coconut milk, lime juice, tomato and sweet chili; and Crab Cakes with sweet pepper relish and parsley scallion emulsion. This menu also offers a grilled Pizza du Jour, as well as a choice of salads and soups, cheeses and Charcuterie meats.
Turn to the “Big Plates” side of the menu, and you will find unusual choices such as Grilled Hangar Steak and Kimchee; Sautéed Veal Sweetbreads with rosemary, tarragon, shiitake mushrooms with sherry sauce on homemade linguine; Veal Short Ribs with mild jalapeno walnut pesto and homemade sweet potato fries; and Serrano Wrapped Fluke with fingerlings and local vegetable Fattoush (a Middle Eastern salad). This is an eclectic menu that also offers a Farmhouse Burger, a natural Lamb Burger, and Fish and Chips. Tom hadn’t eaten Kimchee since he visited Korea years ago, so he opted for the Hangar Steak. The flavor of the dish was unique because of the Kimchee (an aged garlicy Asian cabbage) which is not seen on many local menus. The rich bordelaise was delicious, and the accompanying potatoes and mushrooms accented the steak beautifully. The hangar steak was as tender as a hangar steak can be—it is not particularly known for being overly tender or lean. I was pleased to see many vegetarian offerings on both menus. I decided to try the Zucchini Griddlecakes because Sam the Bartender recommended them. They were wonderful—served with toffee onion relish, roasted eggplant and herb stuffed tomatoes, all accented with a flavorful red wine syrup. I totally enjoyed this dish; again, an interestingly-prepared blend of ingredients and flavors. We also shared an order of Farmhouse Fries that were served with melted Asiago cheese, truffle oil and dijonaisse for dipping. These fries were incredibly decadent. Forget the diet, I highly recommend them. We selected a Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 to enjoy with our meal.
While we were waiting for dessert to arrive, Chef Javan Small and Sous Chef Dan Cote´ visited our table. Both graduates of Johnson and Wales University School of Culinary Arts, Javan and Dan met at the Hyatt in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cote´ followed Small to the Farmhouse, and together they reign in the kitchen to produce one of the more interesting menus I’ve seen in a long while. This is an innovative, knowledgeable and friendly duo who promises to do bigger and better things.
We finished our evening with espresso and cappuccino. I ordered the Risotto Rice Pudding that was the evening’s special selection. It was quite rich, served in a white and milk chocolate tulip-shaped cup, dressed with a raspberry sauce. Tom’s sorbet selection (by the Purple Cow Creamery in Easton) was terrific. Granny Schmidt’s dessert listings included Irish Crème Cake with espresso crème anglaise, Bourbon Vanilla Cheesecake with honey pineapple sauce and candied orange, and Coconut Biscotti Florentine cookie bowl served with mango sorbet.
We were quite pleased with our visit to The Farmhouse and are happy to say that Chef Javan Small has created new and unusual cuisine at this eatery. There is definitely something for just about everyone on his menus that will not only please those with “traditional” tastes but also those with a sense of culinary adventure. We look forward to revisiting The Farmhouse soon to explore what else talented Chef Javan Small and his staff have to offer. I must also point out that the prices are modest. You are able to create a meal that is not only different and delicious, but one that will certainly not break the bank.
The Farmhouse is located at 1449 Chestnut Street, Emmaus. Hours of operation are: Tuesday thru Thursday 5 to 9 PM; Friday and Saturday 5 to 10 PM and Sunday 10 AM to 2 PM for brunch. Reservations are recommended—call 610-967-6225. Visit thefarmhouse.com for seasonal menu listings and other pertinent information, including The Barn at the Farmhouse which offers a unique space for any special occasion. Also, check out their special event and holiday brunches.