FarmShop – $20 Egg Dishes in Yogamomland

4 Dec

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People who say they hate LA (who don’t live in LA) usually are basing their biases off two stereotypes: the idiots who are obsessed with Hollywood and the yoga-granola Westside set. Most of us actually live in regular old LA — mini-malls, traffic, apartment buildings, smog. Well, this is a story about one of those other LAs. Gwynneth’s LA. Where size 2 moms drive their Audi SUVs to yoga class and then to pick up their pressed juice for a Goop cleanse.

It’s in this LA that Jeffrey Cerciello, an acolyte of Thomas Keller, has opened FarmShop. In the Brentwood Country Mart, Cerciello has dropped from the heavens a simulacrum of the platonic ideal of the current farm to table ethos. It wasn’t enough to try to recreate the French Laundry (or at least a less fussy version of Keller’s flagship), FarmShop is also a marketplace that is almost a museum of the best providers in California.

When you walk in, you see near the hostess station a display of seasonal fruit from Frog Hollow Farm. How you react to this display is a good cipher for who you are and how you’ll receive FarmShop. The fruit looks like an exhibition and for a second you’re not sure what is meant by putting it there to greet customers. Is it a display of produce they use in their dishes? Is it solely an aesthetic display? Are you meant to buy a case for home use? Yes, yes, and yes if you are the kind of person who is used to paying $50 for one case of fruit.

The rest of the impossibly well-curated marketplace is like a hall of fame of artisanal producers: charcuterie from Fra’Mani, Fatted Calf and Boccalone. Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and Bellwether Farms. Butter from Strauss Creamery. Ceramics from Heath. If you don’t know who these producers are, FarmShop wants you to know that you should know who they are. And they want you to pay a lot of money for this stuff.
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Fine. It’s understood that this place is expensive. But is it any good?

Actually, the bakery is really good. I’d hate to crown it the best in LA (since it’s douchier than even me), but it is at least in the running. The croissants are perfect – flaky and glazed. And they have a killer app in the garlic and spring onion scone, a perfectly seasoned that may be the best savory pastry in town. The baguettes are also excellent, with a hard crust and perfect chew.
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The best thing we had was the pastry basket. At $12.50, it’s not a bad deal considering most of the pastries at the counter are about $4. You also get a couple pats of Spring Hill butter (incredible) and seasonal preserves (incredible). Again, I can’t recommend highly enough the garlic and spring onion scone. And the chocolate croissant is at least as good as any other in the city (other than Proof Bakery’s version). I think the third item here is the apricot muffin.
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As for the food in the restaurant, it is very good but left something short for me. Everything is executed with precision, but there is a fine-ness to what they do that is maybe meant for someone with a more sensitive palette or sensibility than me.

We had the smoked salmon plate (“whipped Farmer’s cheese” (whatever that means), pickled red onions, capers, on sprouted rye bread), which was really excellent with house-smoked salmon. At $15 it also feels too small for what you get, but is at least really excellent.

The shirred eggs are $15 and involve (surprise!) seasonal produce. When we went, that meant arugula, porcini mushrooms, and peas. It’s definitely well-executed, but a bit precious. I liked the dish, but would have preferred more flavor to stand out. The eggs, however, were well cooked and moist.
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Overall, I would say that FarmShop is a really good meal, but that I don’t prefer their fine dining sensibility for brunch. They are playing for people who have strong opinions about this farm’s goat cheese versus that farm’s goat cheese. And maybe all these Goop-sters on their juice cleanses are more tuned into the qualities of well-sourced eggs than I am. I liked my meal, but thought that it was too expensive and not memorable enough.

But I’ll be back for the pastries.

Farmshop
in the Brentwood Country Mart
225 26th St.
Santa Monica, CA

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