Guys! I am so excited to be kicking off my #DiningOutStrong series! Thanks in advance for reading!
A few notes before I dive in:
First things first: If you haven’t read my post with my tips about how to enjoy dining out without worrying about derailing your fat loss efforts, click here now and then read this post after!
Second: #DiningOutStrong is all about figuring out how to have an awesome meal at a restaurant without mucking up your food plan. If you know me, you know I love stinky cheese, pate, croissants and wine. And those nuggets of awesomeness have their times and places. But if fat loss is your ultimate goal, you will have to choose when to include foods like this — the rich, the saucy, the fried — into your life. I’ll leave it to you to decide when to treat yo self. I’ll leave it to me to give you all the other delicious options!
I chose Farmhouse Evanston as my first #DiningOutStrong destination and two friends were kind enough to join me. Farmhouse is located right downtown at Church St. and Orrington Ave. It was a big deal when it opened up because it was pretty much the first farm-to-table concept to come to town. Many of their ingredients are locally sourced and there’s even a garden on the roof (according to their Facebook page). Most of the interior is reclaimed which gives the dining rooms this cool rustic-chic feel. The night we went — a regular Wednesday night — was busy and bustling with people doing some post-work dining. The atmosphere was upbeat and vibrant which I LOVE (I’m not a fan of being one of the only diners in a restaurant).
Upon looking through the menu, I’m happy to report that there were quite a few dishes the three of us could choose from. Though I’ve heard the cheese curds are some of the best around, we opted for a beautiful salad instead: Shaved local asparagus with golden beets, breakfast radishes, raw English peas, baby butter lettuce and a verjus vinaigrette. It was delightfully refreshing on this warm night and definitely big enough to share three ways. Rebecca mentioned she doesn’t usually like beets but thought these beets were crisp and delicious. There were other salads on the menu (like the black kale salad with sour apple, dried Michigan cherries, Wisconsin parmesan, crunchy heirloom wheat berries and a sherry vinaigrette) but ours sounded like the best way to start dinner without getting too full. Had it been cold outside I might have ordered the homemade chicken soup with kale and wild mushrooms; I’ve had it before and it is excellent. Overall, I’d say that in regards to ordering an appetizer at Farmhouse Evanston, the best options are the salads because most other appetizers are fried.
Now onto entrees. Rebecca and I each ordered the pork tenderloin with cracked wheat green herb salad, grilled asparagus, black garlic and thyme vinaigrette while Melissa ordered the pan roasted trout with pearl pasta salad, charred spring onion, sweet potato chips and sun dried tomato relish. I thought the tenderloin was cooked really well and was very nicely seasoned. Melissa’s trout was cooked nicely and was definitely the star of the dish. That said, it felt like something was missing so we shared the special veggie side of the day which was mixed mushrooms and kale in garlic butter. The size was perfect for the table.
Other options for entrees included the half Amish chicken with glazed spring market vegetables, sandy potatoes and ramp butter (which I’ve heard from many people is really good) as well as the Farmhouse dry aged burger: 100% grass fed beef which comes with lettuce tomato, onion, Nueske’s bacon, Red Barn Heritage white cheddar on a country style roll with fries... Um. Right. About the roll and fries, use this #DinignOutStrong tip: When the pickins are slim on the menu and you eat red meat and you just don't want another freaking salad: Order the burger. The choice is yours regarding eating the bun (and bacon and cheese); I typically don’t eat the bun because it’s rare that the bread tastes THAT good. I may have a few fries with my burger but can also ask for a side of veggies instead OR I can just ask for the burger to be put on a bed of greens. This way you get protein and veggies.]
Moving on to dessert: We skipped it. Instead of getting something that might not blow our minds and then finishing it anyway, we decided we were content enough and left it at that. I did thoroughly enjoy my one glass of wine, though, which helped me feel extra OK skipping dessert (I don't usually drink during the week; it's one habit that's helped me not only maintain my goal weight but also sleep way better on "school nights").
Overall, Farmhouse offers a good amount of options for those who want to enjoy a night out. I will say that across the board, with the exception of our proteins, the food needed more seasoning. But if you’re looking for fresh food with loads of vegetable and protein options, a place with a great vibe that also has a huge outdoor seating area when the weather is nice, Farmhouse passes the IzzyFit #DiningOutStrong test.