The popular breakfast destination is bringing back customer favorites and new delights.
Known for a menu incorporating the best of local organic farming in its breakfast and lunch menu, farm cafe reopened on November 15 after a long closure due to COVID-19. Owner Becky Herbert brought Corina Gitmed, co-owner of Off the Hook Essentialson board to help bring back customer favorites and add some new delicacies.
“We had a really nice crowd on the first day,” Herbert said. “A lot of our regulars came out to support us, which is really cool. I mean, that’s a reason for me to open the door – I missed seeing all the regulars and feeding them. I missed having the camaraderie and the laughs.
Herbert said she lost staff during the pandemic and needed a break from the restaurant to focus on herself trade in prepared meals.
“I talked Corina about doing it for a while,” Herbert said, “and it was just about finding the right cook and a barista to make the coffee. But I just decided to go and all of a sudden everyone got a little bit closer, and it feels like a really strong team.
Herbert met Gitmed during the pandemic when she started using fish from Off the Hook Essentials for the ready meals she created for delivery.
“I told him I would help him with deliveries,” Gitmed said. “We started exchanging various ideas with each other, that’s how it all started. After a while she said, ‘Why don’t you come and work here? Let me take care of the back of the house and the prepared meals. It allowed me to exploit my potential.
Herbert’s new chef, William Loomis, 24, is running a kitchen for the first time after starting as a dishwasher at Dunneville Market and working the counter at Pieology in Gilroy before landing a job at Running Rooster under the management by Chef Lance Ramhurst. Some of its specialties, including bread pudding and pancakes, have made their way onto the new menu.
“My mom made a lot of pancakes when I was younger,” he said. “I always thought they were great, so I wanted those on the menu. I also changed a few things, like the Breakfast Burrito Bowl. Instead of splitting everything up, one thing I learned from Lance was to do everything together so that every flavor went into every component.
Currently, the menu is relatively stripped down compared to what Farmhouse offered before the pandemic, but Herbert says more favorites will be added as everyone gets used to the routine and what customers order. Ramhurst also has a few ideas for the future, including pork belly bao buns and cubano sandwiches.
It will be fun to see how the Farmhouse Cafe evolves as the staff gets a foothold and the menu adapts to the new chef and input from Gitmed. The two things that won’t change are Herbert’s dedication to local organic produce and his enjoyment of having his restaurant open again.
“I’m so excited to be back,” she said. “I really missed it, and it’s always fun to be here.
The Farmhouse Cafe will be closed Thanksgiving week, with the exception of Lights On Celebration on Nov. 26 in downtown Hollister. Regular hours will resume the following week: Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Farmhouse Cafe menu
Turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce – “The reason they’re on the menu,” Herbert says, “is because when I lived in Boston, I bought them to remind me of my family on Thanksgiving.” The turkey is a farm-raised Diestel with a cream cheese schmear, but the real star here is the homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest. The flavor is intense and compelling – it elevates a very simple sandwich into a work of art.
Chicken salad sandwich – Roasted chicken, coarsely chopped and tossed with sliced almonds and sun-sweetened cranberries. “It’s definitely one of our biggest sellers,” Herbert said. “People come in and buy this in containers to take home.” Not as tasty as the turkey sandwich, but a nice combination of ingredients pulls it all together in a very satisfying way.
Bread pudding – “It’s Will’s creation, and it has a syrup he puts on it when it’s hot,” Herbert said. “He wanted to make a bread pudding, and we decided to make it in muffin form so people could have it with our coffee and leave.” Once again Phil Foster’s farm is showcased in the fresh apple slices tossed in the bread pudding. The density is similar to that of a bran muffin, but more fluffy and with an excellent texture. I didn’t have this with the syrup – the apples were enough to provide enough sweetness to enhance the flavor.
Breakfast Burrito Bowl – An all-organic dish, eggs and roast potatoes are served with either pasture-raised pork sausages or marinated tofu – the version I had had both – a homemade salsa made with tomatoes, jalapenos and red onions. “You should be able to taste the freshness,” Herbert said. “It’s our trademark. Anyone else have potatoes or jalapenos from Phil Foster? And there’s a huge difference between the eggs we get from Glaum Ranch and the ones most people use. The dish, as served, is excellent and the salsa takes it to another level with a light kick that complements the freshness of the ingredients.
Poblano Tomato Stew – This vegan soup features chunks of roasted poblano peppers and tomatillos from Phil Foster’s farm, combined with slightly firm cannellini beans and canned organic tomatoes. “There’s just enough heat to wake you up in the morning,” Herbert said. “You can feel warm all the way.” The very mild heat of the peppers is more of an accent than a full flavor component and does not mask the lovely taste of the tomato or the spices, such as cardamom, cumin and cinnamon, which add a subtle Indian accent to the dish. It’s a staple dish and I could eat it all day.
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