Sunday, December 13, 2015

Farm-To-Table at Farmer's Bottega in Mission Hills!

Farmer's Bottega already had me with their logo. I thought that it totally encompassed their "Farm-To-Table" concept in a very clever way.  This restaurant has been open for nearly a year in the Mission Hills area of San Diego and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you step inside it has the feel of an open rustic place. The restaurant is covered in brown and gray hues. Interesting fixtures and items are used to evoke a sense of the "unexpected". For example, this sewing machine is used as the hostess table.
This antique meat grinder had me looking at it for quite awhile. It sits on the window sill near the front.  I'm still not sure if that is what it is, but that's my best guess.  Take a look at the iron right next to it too.  These pieces of machinery makes one imagine the people using them translating back to working with your hands, the concept of creating, farming.

The light fixtures are also eclectic.  The exposed ceiling gave the place a "not so finished" look which added character.

It is not a big place. I think there are ten or so tables that sit 2-4 people. There is one tall table that sits 6 and another communal bench seating area that sits about 10.  

We arrived just at the tail end of their happy hour.  You can see the specials listed for every day of the week on this chalk board. I especially think the value of Date Night on Wednesdays is incredible. $38 for 2 entrees, an appetizer and a dessert. I am not sure where you would find this for the quality of food they provide. I also noted that they include pets as patrons.  You can bring your furry family member and dine out on the patio.

The menus for Happy Hour are printed on wine bottles.  I was amused by the novelty! Again, unexpected.

Friday and Saturday, Happy Hour specials are only at the bar, which seats about 10.

Javier, our server, quickly greeted us and brought us water.  There's something about water served from a bottle and drinking them out of mason jars.  I liked the mixmatched look!

We started with a couple of cocktails.  I had a strawberry bellini and my hubs had a kombucha mule. Executive Chef Alberto Morreale lists all of the businesses he partners with on the back of the menus. The kombucha comes from Living Tea. Both drinks were delicious!

I thought the menu was quite extensive for a quaint place. Items such as Bison Tartare and Oxtail Ravioli caught my attention. The menu contains numerous items that are labeled as gluten free and vegan friendly which I thought was very considerate for diners with special dietary needs. 

I am a huge fan of cheese, bread and charcuterie.  There were bread plates, focaccias, flat breads, bruschettas and cheese and meat boards that were calling my name, BUT since the menu offered so much diversity, especially with exotic meats, I vowed tonight to try items that I do not have the opportunity to eat. 

I did give in though  to ordering jars of hummus and olive tapanade served with grilled focaccia to start off with.   I loved the display! The food being served in jars  relayed another fresh from the farm feel. 

Next we had fried green tomatoes and burnt carrots. The fried green tomatoes were good but I never had burnt carrots and I was so glad we ordered it. They ate like meat! Fleshy and with a good bite to them, not soggy and just with the right amount of sweetness.  I highly recommend this "salad".  It really could be an entree.

We also tried the Grilled Octopus "Blackened" served with mango relish.  My husband and I love izakaya places and I wondered if this would be similar to a Japanese dish. The octopus was huge! A great amount of skill is needed in cooking this. Just like squid, cooking it too long would make it rubbery.  It was not rubbery, but the thickness of the octopus bothered my palate.  My husband liked it though.  I passed.

For my entree, I chose the Wild Boar Sausage Risotto served with roasted cherry tomatoes, wild mushroom, and crispy brussel sprouts.  Risotto is another dish that takes great care in its preparation. Too long of a time in cooking it and it may be sticky, too short of a time may make it not tender enough.  This was the dish of the night for me, along with the carrots.  The brussel sprouts were cut a bit too chunky, however I overlooked that because the taste prevailed. This dish was absolute perfection on a cold winter night.  I told my husband if I was sick in bed, this is what I would crave to nourish me back to health.  I asked him to make a mental note of this for future reference!

My husband ordered the Buffalo Filet, served with garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli rapini, with a dark chocolate petite sirah reduction. Chef Morreale orders the buffalo from Wyoming from Durham Ranch.  It is operated by the third generation of the Flocchini family near Wright, Wyoming. I believe this is the first time I tasted buffalo. It tasted much like beef. 
I asked Javier to pick the dessert for us.  He brought us the pear-strawberry tart. There was cheesecake on the menu and a chocolate lava cake, which is one of my guilty pleasures, but the tart was a great pick. It was a great ending to this feast at Farmer's Bottega.

If I go back, wait...WHEN I go back, I already know what I am going to order.  I am interested in the charcuterie board, the bleu cheese parma proscitutto-dried fig bruchetta and the "Black & White" Tagliolini.  Then I will have the chocolate lava cake for dessert!

Kudos to Chef Morreale on the care and quality of the products he serves.  With such a huge selection, one cannot go wrong in dining here even with the pickiest of eaters.  I WILL BE BACK!

Disclosure: My husband and I were treated to complimentary meals.  All opinions are my own.

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