I’ve tended to appreciate Farmer’s Table, the healthy-eating outpost at the Wyndham Boca Raton, more in theory than in practice. As someone who cares about food sourcing, factory farming and organic ingredients, I’ve always admired the restaurant’s nutritional consciousness, its militant rejection of butter and cream, and its refusal to invest in a deep-fat fryer or microwave, lest the kitchen staff ever get tempted to cut a corner.
But the quality of the food has been wildly inconsistent, with some dishes bursting with innovation and comfort alike (anything with wild mushrooms), and others lacking the necessarily robust flavor profile, qualifying merely as unsuccessful experiments (the vegan shepherd’s pie comes to mind).
Beginning this week, the restaurant is offering both die-hards and skeptics a new reason to visit. For the first time, it has rolled out a seasonal menu, with up to 70 percent of its options making their Farmer’s Table debuts. The new items sprawl across its Sunrise, Brunch, Lunch, Mid-Day and Dinner menus alike. I stopped by for a media lunch, and judging by the turnout at noon on a Wednesday, the change is already attracting a buzz: By 12:30, you’d be hard-pressed to find a table indoors.
The brand-new flatbreads include a Pulled First Cut BBQ Brisket and a Kale Primavera; the “handhelds” section includes a Panang Curry Chicken Salad; and inaugural dinner options feature Kombucha Brick Chicken (pictured at top of blog), Spice Seared Atlantic Tuna and the Roasted Ratatouille Skillet. Additionally, nearly every appetizer is premiering for summer.
As my wife and I keep mostly vegetarian, we went meatless for lunch; pleasingly, Farmer’s Table continues to offer copious options for herbivores. The restaurant has hopped aboard the roasted cauliflower train with a Buffalo Cauliflower “Drumettes” app that arguably surpasses a similar dish at its archrival, Farmhouse Kitchen. The cooks goes liberal with the Buffalo sauce, drowning the bulbous vegetables in a perfectly spicy nirvana. Served with an un-Ranch-like vegan Ranch dipping sauce, and balanced with raw carrots and cooked asparagus, it’s addictive, flavor-rich and filling: an ostensible main course masquerading as an app.
The Hummus & Ajvar—the latter is a sweet pepper-based relish that sits atop the former—is a bright-tasting complement served with cucumber slices, EVOO and toasted za’atar naan that could have been warmer. It’s an acceptable dish, more raw than the hummus I like best; if you order it with the cauliflower, as we did, finish the hummus first. After tasting the cauliflower, it comes across as all too timid.
Most of the region’s top restaurants specialize in flavor-juxtaposing salads that are as cleverly presented as they are deliciously consumed, and Farmer’s Table is no exception. The new Root to Stem is an unassailable must-try, displayed as a deconstructed salad: the oakleaf greens covering a bed of quinoa and Brussels sprouts tabbouleh on one side; and watermelon, roasted butternut squash and pumpkin seed crunch resting in a fig vinaigrette on the other side. Combine them, and you have a symphony of flavor—savory, sweet, sour and above all surprising. It really is a work of art.
Alas, there was one misfire. Plant-based burgers have undergone a taste renaissance in the past decade, but the Falafel Veggie Burger didn’t get the memo. While it’s nice to see Farmer’s Table attempt to break out of the conventional black bean- or quinoa-based bubble for a more imaginative chickpea patty, the result didn’t taste different from a pre-packaged frozen entrée from—gasp, I know—Morningstar. Moreover, it doesn’t lookparticularly appetizing upon arrival, and unless you eat it quickly, the bun and the burger alike lose their consistency and begin to fall apart. The highlight of this dish, by far, is the sesame chili aioli topping, which doubles as a dipping sauce for the steak fries served alongside it.
Of course, don’t take my word for it. I could barely scratch the surface of the more than 25 new dishes. And as always, do yourself a favor: Finish (or start!) with the vegan chocolate truffles. You won’t miss dairy one bit.
Farmer’s Table is at 1901 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton. For reservations, call 561/417-5836. Visit farmerstableboca.com for more information.