Kid Hit Menu Items: Farmshop at the Brentwood Country Mart‘s lunch menu includes kids’ grilled cheese and chicken breast ($7.50), but the other regular food is hardly controversial. Price, however, is a major consideration. At breakfast last week, the baby and I shared the luscious, herb-packed rolled omelette plate that includes crisp, flavorful Weiser potatoes and a toasted wispy croissant. But since when did having daytime meals suddenly turn into a $20 proposition in just about every mid- to high-end casual restaurant? I don’t exactly find this to be a terrific deal.
Adult Perks: Farmshop isn’t afraid to lay down some ground rules. Customers are advised: “cell phones, tweeting and emailing have proven harmful to other diners’ appetites. please refrain.” Hmm, I suppose this request means there won’t be any dinners hosted here for food media and bloggers. But the result is very civilized; individual customers reading the paper over a relaxed breakfast (yeah, probably screenwriters), others engaging in uninterrupted conversation. These relatively quaint social rules jibe with Farmshop’s impeccably staged rustic earnestness that’s expressed in its lovely, simple aesthetic that us city slickers eat up. What could better complement all that fancy retail tucked into the Country Mart’s nostalgic setting? Custom linen napkins by Commune are an extra nice touch.
Pros: Farmshop is Jeff Cerciello’s (formerly of Thomas Keller Group/Bouchon/Ad Hoc) SoCal project, so obviously overall quality is stellar. The service stands out as particularly polite and attentive. Since he’s from the land of fruit-forward wines, Farmshop’s cooking strikes me as herb-forward, in the best possible way, with judicious yet strong use of simple ingredients. For now only breakfast and lunch are served, yet I’m curious to see what kind of dinner program they roll out since it feels like a daytime kind of place. A small provisions shop is in the works, too. Trying Cerciello’s fried chicken and French fries are most likely to bring me back.
Cons: Few, unless you object to the Birkin-to-customer ratio being about 1:10, which must be among the absolute highest in the city.
Changing Station: Yes, in the lovely white-tiled and well-appointed retro Country Mart bathroom.
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Easy parking around the Country Mart’s surface lots. I cannot, however, speak to what it’s like during the weekends or busier times.
Other Tidbits: I hadn’t been the Brentwood Country Mart since high school. Given that it’s a smaller, tidier, farther, much fancier Westside version of the Farmer’s Market, I never really saw the point. Now in a bizarre twist of unpredictable upscale retail tastes, Calypso seems to have taken over half of the retail square footage. But other than that, I totally get the appeal of the place. If it’s one neighborhood where you can serve a breakfast that will cost at least $20 when you figure tax + tip, it’s here (although City Bakery didn’t fare too well). After breakfast, the baby and I hung out in the charming courtyard behind the ye olde timey barbershop and kids’ clothing store; he had a ball playing in the train and mini carousel. An excellent spot to pass the time, even if the scene and characters aren’t nearly as interesting as the east patio of the OFM. I stopped in for a capp at Caffe Luxxe, but was bummed to find Sweet Rose Creamery still closed by the time I had to head to the Skirball to see the Maira Kalman exhibition during its last few days. Sorry, but art won that battle.
225 26th Street, Brentwood/Santa Monica
Cuisine: American/Market Driven/Seasonal
Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 – 2:30; Saturday and Sunday, 8 .am. – 2 p.m.; Bakery 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., daily.