Monday, April 28, 2008

FarmHousE Cafe & Bakery

Restaurant: FarmHousE Cafe & Bakery
Address: 3461 South 84th St - Right beside Mangelsen's
Genres: bakery, american
Check Constraints: Split checks for a group of any size is an automatic 18% gratuity.
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • PotatoChip Chicken Fingers ($6.99)
  • Cup of Cheese Soup ($2.99)
  • Monterey Chicken Melt ($8.49)
    • Sun Stix
I had been curious about this place ever since my first visit to Mangelsen's, the arts & crafts store attached to this restaurant (or is it vice versa?). It's not every day you see a restaurant attached to a craft store, though I have to admit it's not the first time I've seen it. Regardless, it was a wet and chilly Thursday, and through a massive dose of apathy, I forced my decision on the group. I don't regret this course of action, though I do wish I'd gotten something else.

The cup of soup, to begin with, was adequate. The consistency was a lot closer to cheese pudding than I would have liked, but there were carrot strips and celery mixed in for texture, which made it feel a lot less like I was eating a bowl of melted Velveeta. The taste was good, but I'm pretty sure some of the soup is even now sitting in my aorta and chuckling malevolently.

The chicken fingers were better than the soup. The meat itself was cooked well and of better quality than I associate with frozen tenders, and the potato chip coating gave it some excellent flavor. The ranch it was served with didn't do much for it, but dipping it in ketchup proved adequate for when I needed something to dip it in at all. They were also served extremely hot, so consumers should beware. The other appetizer we got was their dip selection - are you tired of us reviewing dips? I'm tired of eating them - of which the cheese and chili dips were on the good side of passable, but the spinach-artichoke was tasteless and forgettable.

The sandwich was good, with a lot of flavor, good bread, and of a decent size for the price. The largest failing with it was that it was served with romaine lettuce strips - not uncommon for a sandwich, but the sandwich itself was so hot when put on the lettuce that by the time it arrived at the table, most of the lettuce had flat-out cooked in the heat and the rest was pretty wilted. With the high moisture content of the sandwich, this made the dang thing pretty messy and I ended up just pulling all the green off it. The "Sun Stix" - code name for sweet potato fries - were good. Not overly done or overladen with spice, but in fact totally devoid of all flavor but the sweet potato. Which is fine, really. The ones at the FireWater Grille were better, but these weren't any slouch in the goodness department.

In retrospect, I wish I'd had room to try a pie, or perhaps changed up my order for one of their breakfasts, which they claim is the "Best Breakfast in Omaha". I strive to find something to rave about in each review, but honestly everything I had here falls into the "average to good" category. Which, you know, is fine for a lunch or so, but I'm not very eager to give it another shot.

  • Patty Melt ($7.99)
    • Pasta Salad
The first thing I noticed (since it was the first thing I got) was that the water was fairly clean tasting. A lot of places, you'll get water that's slightly dusty or dirty tasting. The chicken strips were hefty chunks of meat, and pretty well done. They were good, but a bit too hot to eat right away. Like Cham said, the ranch wasn't really worth using. The chips and dip were reasonable. I liked the chili-style dip the best. The others were so-so. I actually didn't like the chips themselves very much. They were a sort of home-made tortilla chip, but they weren't very good on their own. I preferred to drown them in dip, but once the dip got cold, I abandoned the whole deal.

I had a taste of the cheese soup, and as someone who has overdosed on a Velveeta based dip before, I can say that the soup did not taste like Velveeta. It was a bit fluffier in consistency as well. I'd say the texture is bordering on a cheese foam, but that doesn't sound too appetizing. I didn't have enough of it to say if it was worth getting though.

The patty melt was a pretty large sandwich, but it was mostly patty. It came on some dark rye bread with a bit of onions and sauce. Half the time, the rest of the sandwich was drowned out by plain, ground-beef flavor. The sandwich wasn't bad, just, mostly beef. It also came with a half of a giant dill pickle. The pasta salad side was pretty decent, but there wasn't very much of it.

I agree with the "average to good" rating, and it might be worth trying to find out what the favorites or specialties are. I'll note that as we walked in we were greeted with a wonderful cinnamon roll smell. I've also talked with someone who works there, and he mentions they use an awful lot of eggs. It might be good to stay on the bakery or breakfast side of things.

  • Chips & Dips ($5.99)
  • Bowl of Cheese Soup ($3.99)
  • Sausage & Cheese Quiche (Special, 5.99)
Okay, I think, for the record, that we're never going to get chips and dips again. Anywhere. Well, maybe at a mexican joint, but that's because it's practically obligatory there. I will say, for the record, that if you're going to get an appetizer here, you should stick to the potato chip fried chicken. The breading gets out of the way of the flavor, so what you really taste is pure chicken, and it's pretty good quality chicken, too.

The cheese soup really needed some potatoes. That would make it into essentially a duplicate of the Petrow's potato soup, but that stuff was amazing, so who cares? The carrots did nothing for the soup but add texture, and the celery may as well have not been there. What I did find, though, was that the soup was a better dip for the chicken than the ranch that came with them.

The quiche came with a big slab of pineapple and a couple strawberries. This was the best part about it. Allow me to be absolutely clear on this point: Do not, under any circumstances, get the quiche. This pie can barely be called a quiche at all. While the portion is generous, the pie crust itself was badly done, the cheese was somehow not melted, and the egg filling was so dense that it sat like a rock in your gut waiting to be digested. The sausage was nothing special, and worse, the sauce that they ladled so generously over the top was absolutely disgusting, tasting like nothing so much as concentrated Swanson's chicken base.

We have instituted a new set of protocols for dealing with bakery type restaurants. Instead of getting appetizers when we go to one like this, we're going to save our money for dessert, in order to sample what should be the strength of the place. The blueberry muffin I got with the quiche was quite good, so if you stick to the chicken and the bakery, you should be fine. Just, uh, stay away from the quiche. A LONG way away.

  • Chicken 'N Noodles ($8.25)
  • Cup of Cheese Soup ($2.99)
I have to go a step further and say the chips and dip was terrible. The chips tasted doughy and were chewy instead of crispy or crunchy. I couldn't get past the overpowering non-taste of the chips to evaluate any of the dips, so I'll have to leave that to the others. I am in agreeance that the Chicken Strips were delicious. I also much appreciated the Cheese Soup. I liked particularly the use of julienned carrots instead of chunks of broccoli. It gave it an extra little crunch without being too obvious about it. I regret not paying the extra dollar to get double the soup.

When they brought out my Chicken 'N Noodles ND asked a very compelling question: "Dude, did you get a plate of potato salad?" The sauce in the Chicken 'N Noodles was very thick, very sticky, very yellow, and very there. Looking at it, I couldn't see any of the chicken or the noodles. Chewing it, I couldn't feel any of the gumminess of good egg noodles. Tasting it, I couldn't make out anything but slightly sour chicken gravy. I didn't enjoy it at all. I ended up eating bites of the coleslaw that came with it (which was actually pretty good) to clear the taste out of my mouth and left half of my plate behind.

No comments: