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SAVOR Farm Bar
by Andrew Davis
2021-11-21

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You may not have heard of Farmheads Group, but it should be known that the organization is on a culinary mission.

Farmheads—which operates Farm Bar Lakeview, Farmhouse Evanston and Brown Dog Farm—wants to exemplify responsibility by utilizing local ingredients from its own farming system in Wisconsin and neighboring groups for its dishes; designing with recycled and reclaimed materials in the spaces; and committing to local charities and neighborhood groups.

Plus, the group is responsible for some delightful culinary offerings.

That last bit became evident during a visit to Farm Bar (1300 W. Wellington Ave.; https://www.farm-bar.com), a Lake View spot that features ingredients directly from owner TJ Callahan's Brown Dog Farms, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin—and that is immediately recognizable by the rural motifs on its exterior.

(Incidentally, people can currently choose from four organizations for this place's Giving Tuesday: the Women's Global Educational Project, The Anti-Cruelty Society, Embarc Chicago and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Foundation. Just tell the bartender or server your selection, and 20 percent of your dining costs will be donated to that particular group.)

As you might expect, Farm Bar has quite the hearty Midwestern-based menu. Appetizers include Wisconsin cheese curds, with Farm Bar's BBQ sauce-forward ketchup and spicy curd sauce; homemade chicken soup; Bavarian-style pretzel, with beer cheddar and beer mustard; pork belly poutine, with French fries, cheese curds, rosemary gravy, white cheddar and farm egg; and crispy pork ends—a decadent dish that's accompanied by Brown Dog Farm chili-infused honey as well pickled red onions and arugula.

The entrees are just as tempting, with one menu section devoted solely to Midwest burgers. I chose the Indiana white cheddar and kale turkey burger, which was served on sourdough bread and was as comforting as Grandma's hug. My friend definitely enjoyed her Michigan "harvest" burger, which came with sour-cherry cider jam, caramelized onions and arugula on a butter bun. (The burger also comes with herbed goat cheese, but she had that removed.). A separate section featuring sandwiches had options such as Ode to Maxwell Street, with pork chop, caramelized onions, roasted apples, honey mustard and arugula on a butter bun, with crispy onion petals on the side; a beer-battered fried haddock sandwich; and a cheddar buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich. (I have the feeling I'd be content with any of those items.)

Moreover, Farm Bar has "Honest to the Heartland" entrees such as steak frites, a roasted half-chicken and roasted salmon. (Short-rib pot roast is a choice on Saturdays, while Fridays feature a Wisconsin-style fish fry.)

However, the aforementioned hearty menu has some selections for vegetarians and vegans as well. Cauliflower steak is an entree selection as well, and a roasted beet Reuben is part of the sandwich section. And there are various salads, which as the farm green (with mixed greens, Mighty Vine tomato and cucumber, with Brown Dog Farm honey vinaigrette), roasted beet (with quinoa, baby arugula and goat cheese alongside those beets) and harvest apple (with additions like cinnamon apple chips, pumpkin seeds, Wisconsin white cheddar cheese) and dried cranberries. There is a Farm Bar quinoa bowl, with ingredients like edamame, green chickpeas, kale, feta cheese and smoked trout, but I'm sure you can exclude the fish if you want.

And if you have room for dessert, don't bypass it. Selections, among others, include a decadent brownie and excellent bread pudding, both accompanied by ice cream.

Farm Bar also excels on the drink front, with everything from delicious cocktails to comforting housemade ciders. I had the wonderful cider sangria, which has Farmhouse citrus- and chamomile-infused vodka in addition to pimento dram, house maple sour mix and angostura bitters in addition to the cider. Regarding cocktails, there is something for every taste, whether it's the Smoked Manhattan, Bees Knees (with prosecco and Brown Dog Farm honey), the Figgy Marley (rum, with housemade and fig and sage syrup) or Not Your Basic PSL (rye, with Demerara, housemade pumpkin bourbon cream, egg white, apple spice, chai betters and a flamed marshmallow).

Farm Bar also has a window through which people (such as those who are reluctant to gather inside during these pandemic-related times) can pick up items. Unfortunately for the few who sit near the window (which is in the main dining area), they could be subjected to occasional blasts of cold or hot air, depending on the time of the year.

I heartily recommend Farm Bar. This place is the essence of—you guessed it—hearty Midwestern culinary goodness, and you can feel like a very responsible diner as well.

This visit was arranged.


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