Farmhouse, Harrogate has re-opened, 4 months after the Covid pandemic hit.
Some people may say that it's too early to even think about opening restaurants but I believe that all the people who work there are eager to get back to work and once again welcome people through their doors.
In Harrogate, we are lucky enough to have a wide variety of independents to choose from and it's these that I am happy to return to.
To give them the support they desperately need if they have any chance of remaining open after suffering from a severely depleted income over the last 103 days.
Eating Out Post Covid
It's a new world with social distancing, bookings encouraged, the taking of details, sanitiser in force and empty tables. Not to mention one way systems in place to prevent crowding at entrances, limited opening times and shortened menus.
For those of us who enjoy dining out, this reopening couldn't have come at a better time, as I'm sure you can agree that cooking only lasts so long and takeaways have soon lost their shine.
There's nothing quite like getting ready to leave, knowing that someone else will have cooked your meal for you. Leaving you with the hardest decision of all - what to order!
This takes on even more meaning, after being told to stay home and having to shop, meal plan, cook and clean up after your family yourself over these 103 days!
For me, it was especially lovely to have a bit more freedom and be able to go to one of my favourite independents. Farmhouse has been open in Harrogate since March 2019, bringing a much needed breath of fresh air to the restaurant scene after we lost Filmore & Union.
I've been a big fan of them since they opened as I was missing out on good quality, tasty vegan food after Filmore closed only 2 months after Farmhouse opened. I have gotten to know Jordan, owner and chef, after meeting him on my first ever visit!
He's such a lovely guy and is clearly very passionate about bringing good food and service to his restaurant. He has 14 years experience in the hospitality industry and has always had a passion to open his own restaurant one day.
Starting out front of house, Jordan has since moved into the kitchen and is the master of all the dishes which come out, pouring his passion and expertise into every dish and delighting us all with his creations. From this vegan, you can be assured that taste isn't sacrificed in the pursuit of customer satisfaction.
Tasting New Dishes
One of the side effects of living and eating out in this post-Covid world is that most restaurants have had to out out a slimmed down version of their full menu.
This is obviously to ensure that the chefs in the kitchens can fully concentrate on creating delicious dishes, not on giving lacklustre efforts to a packed out restaurant.
It also ensures, I believe, that there's less strain on the restaurants re-opening. Whatever the real reason, it sure cuts down on the decision making process which can sometimes be the one aspect of the dining out experience customers dislike the most!
The Dishes and Drinks
Ok so onto the food!! Having been told by Jordan that there would be new dishes to try, I was excited to see what they were and surprisingly I hadn't actually checked the menu out online prior to my reservation! So unlike me!
For drinks I went for a Passion Fruit Spritz with passoa, passion fruit puree, lemon juice and soda. It was delightfully refreshing and a good alternate to a Pornstar Martini, which at 1 in the afternoon could've left me a little light headed!
I opted for Sourdough Focaccia to start with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and it was everything I needed and more. Three generous slabs of Sourdough will ensure any Yorkshire appetite is satiated.
For my next course I had chosen to try out one of the new vegan dishes, Tofu Tacos with crispy tofu, avocado, chopped salad, chipotle salsa and vegan range slaw on a soft tortilla.
But before I could get my mouth around these bad boys, I was brought another of their new dishes to try - Burnt Aubergine with date molasses, mint, pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds.
This dish is a wonder for the senses, the burnt skin of the Aubergine hitting your nose is reminiscent of summer BBQs and adds a different element to a dish which elevates this humble vegetable to new heights. Perhaps also inviting people, once hesitant, to give this vegetable a go.
To be given the honour of tasting this new dish and giving feedback to the chef, really does cement everything I love about supporting your independents. They know I'm vegan, am a frequent customer and they value my opinion.
Or it may just prove that I frequent Farmhouse too often and am known by all the staff - even if I was wearing a mask!
Either way, I tried it with delight and my tastebuds were dancing. The cooking of the Aubergine had somehow made the insides delightfully silky, matching perfectly with the crunch of the pistachios and the sweet pop from the pomegranate seeds.
The date molasses added another sweet element to the dish, somehow without detracting from the dish as a whole. Jordan, this is a masterstroke and I for one hope many more people give it a go, as it is not one to be missed!
After demolishing almost all of this (I am not one to waste excellent food after all!) it was time for my Tofu Tacos!
This is also a new dish and is another take on the vegan favourites - tacos and tofu! Now, after being delightfully stuffed by that fabulous Aubergine dish, I could hardly fit these in which was a shame as they were delicious!
I shall do my best here to entice you to try them with my words! The tofu was satisfyingly crispy, the slaw contrasted well with the soft tortilla and the chipotle salsa added another level of heat.
When eaten together the tacos bring all of these elements onto your tongue, making your tastebuds dance with all the textures. The chipotle salsa adds heat, some might say almost too much!
Being a big fan of Mexican food myself, I for one am pleased to see these on the menu. Sometimes vegan alternatives lack a certain something - most would say flavour here but I disagree. They can have flavour, but can still leave you wanting.
Not so these tantalising tacos! I dare you to order these, delight your tastebuds and make your companions jealous! I am already looking forward to going back and having them again when I'm not already stuffed from a sneaky side dish!
So, if you're like me and are eager to go out for a meal, I urge you to seek out your local independents, they need your support now more than ever.
And, if you're local to Harrogate or want to visit, I can't recommend or urge you to visit Farmhouse more. Everything from the friendly staff, the inspired decor and the wonderful food, will leave you wanting more.