Restaurant Review: Farm to Table Bistro

Farm to Table Bistro, Fishkill, NY

Farm to Table Bistro of Fishkill, NY (Photo by Jac Bergenson)

 

by Jac Bergenson 

The farm-to-table trend in the restaurant industry is not one that I could always fully throw my weight behind.  Though the aspirations are admirable, for sure, the simple reality is that many restaurants have neither the resources nor the climate available to recreate Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Dan Barber’s premier restaurant: one in which all of the food presented is grown on-premises.  When farm-to-table is done tactfully and executed properly, however, the results can be beautiful to behold.

Such a restaurant stands unassuming in Fishkill, NY.  Immediately upon entering Farm to Table Bistro, my eye was not drawn to the well-stocked bar or the dim-lit, beautifully decorated dining room.  No, despite the care that had been taken in decorating the bistro, the centerpiece of my attention was the kitchen; bright and open, it contrasted starkly with the aforementioned areas.

While I am discussing my earliest impressions, I must point out the bistro’s first, and only major misstep: the seating.  Though I had been promised a table in the bar area when making my reservation, my guest and I were escorted to the separate dining area, and promptly seated between two other two-tops, with guests no more than a foot away on either side of my guest and myself.  One awkward exchange of eye contact said it all: How can a diner enjoy his experience, when he has no room for privacy on Valentine’s Day.  Fortunately, the error was promptly and apologetically rectified, and my guest and I were escorted to our original table.

Though I had been warned the bar area might be a little louder, I actually took comfort in the privacy of my table.  It would prove to have the same ambience as the dining area, anyway, and I particularly enjoyed a birds-eye view of the night’s entertainment: a local jazz duo, which added flair to the experience.

But a restaurant is about more than just the ambience: without quality food, the entire experience is void.  Luckily, Farm to Table Bistro pulls in all of its ingredients from local producers, such as Fishkill Farms and Sprout Creek Farm.  The chef had taken great care to craft a seasonal, yet non-restrictive menu.  My guest chose a smothered organic chicken breast, and I dug into an entrée of pork schnitzel.

Rather than dictate which sides accompanies which entrees, the server asked my guest and I which sides we each wanted.  Clearly, certain sides were meant to accompany certain dishes:  Garlic mashed potatoes, for example, meshed perfectly with my guest’s chicken, while braised red cabbage could be considered a staple side for schnitzel.

My schnitzel was accompanied by Moroccan-spiced carrots and the braised cabbage, and I could not have been more wholly satisfied by a dish.  The cabbage sweet, and the carrots delicately cooked with just a bit of bite, the sides would have been satisfying on their own.  But the pork, the main attraction, was evenly cooked on both sides, fried crispy and remarkably light.  The portion was not eye-poppingly large, but after scraping the plate clean, I’m not sure I could have eaten another bite.

The chicken was well cooked as well, moist and flavorful at its core, but the sauce could have been executed a bit more carefully.  A sauce thickened with roux (flour and fat) must simmer for quite some time before the pasty flavor of the flour is cooked out, and the chef may have benefitted from leaving the pot on the burner for 10-15 minutes longer.  Has the sauce been plated more sparingly, I might have overlooked this flaw.

For dessert, my guest and I shared a chocolate soufflé which our server had recommended we order ahead of time.  I usually avoid soufflés, and I admittedly go for fruit-based desserts more than I do chocolate; but the chocolate soufflé stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the schnitzel as the highlight of the night.  Modestly rich, fluffy, and moist, the soufflé was one of the best I have ever had in my life—and I have had soufflés prepared by Culinary Institute of America instructors.

Throughout the night, the service left as much of an impression as the food.  After the initial misstep, my guest and I were taken care of by a knowledgeable and friendly, yet unintrusive server.  I always pair a Pinot Grigio with my pork, and when asked which wine I should accompany my pork with, she recommended the same.  Additionally, while waiting was never an issue, yet I never felt rushed.

At a moderately high price, one expects a restaurant to crank it up a notch.  I would not call the experience perfect.  However, the minor mistakes made were fixed promptly and without a fuss, the mark of a great restaurant.  If you love great food, you’ll love Farm to Table Bistro.  I know I did.

Rating: 4/5 Stars