At one time The Farmhouse, an early 19th century stone house on Route 29, must have been the epicenter of a sowing, growing operation that reaped bounty from acres of the surrounding land.
The DetailsTHE FARMHOUSE
1449 Chestnut St.
Hours: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; reservations recommended
Prices: Appetizers: $7-$11; Entrees: $19-$26; Desserts: $6-$8
Credit cards: American Express, Diner's Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Bar: Full bar
Smoking: No smoking
Accessibility: Entry accessible to wheelchairs; stairs to restrooms
When I visited recently, the meal proved, once again, that mixing the best ingredients with talent, skill and intelligence in the kitchen yields a dining experience like none other.
The Farmhouse is a white- tablecloth, fine-dining establishment, the sort of restaurant a treat any time of year that makes any special occasion even more special. Even so, its ambience is unpretentious, cozy and comfortable.
Six intimate dining rooms, painted marbleized colors reminiscent of butternut squash or robins' eggs, are spare, save for a chair rail and a few paintings or prints.
A wood stove in the entry's massive fireplace radiated much appreciated country warmth the frigid night of my visit.
Chef Michael Adams' ''New American'' fare incorporates elements of cuisines from across the globe: Butternut squash soup gets coconut and curry flavors from the East; braised short ribs find a partner with that Italian favorite, risotto; and seared tuna benefits from the counterpoint of a French-inspired au poivre preparation.
The menu, which changes seasonally, features eight appetizers, eight entrees and two salads that would entice any epicurean palate: consider, for example, yellowfin tuna tartare with American sturgeon caviar; market oysters with green apple mignonette; pickled beets with goat cheese; roasted Alaskan black cod with candy-striped beets; and grilled flat-iron steak with chanterelle mushrooms.
Oh for the fortitude to try it all! Alas, though, choices had to be made, so we selected sweet potato gnocchi, a crabmeat cake, and foie gras for starters.
The pasta pockets, melt-in-your-mouth tender, were served with diced, caramelized butternut squash that added depth and sweetness.
Parsnip slaw, wonderfully fresh and crisp, contributed counterpoint taste and texture to the pan-fried crabmeat cake listed with the evening's specials.
Also from the list of specials, Chef Adams' foie gras stole the show. The seared goose liver's silky richness was enhanced by its contrast with the texture of the crostini on which it was served and the flavor of raspberry red onion marmalade topping. At once both sweet and zippy, the marmalade added complexity that made this delectable dish a one-act wonder.
We shared baby arugula salad with Anjou pear and local goat cheese. The impeccably fresh greens from Liberty Gardens, a farm in Coopersburg, were tossed with julienne pieces of fruit that brought sweet crunch to the salad, dressed with sherry walnut vinaigrette.
Crusty rolls, feathery inside, were a well-executed detail that exemplified the all-around excellence that permeated dinner here.
From the evening's entree specials, lamb paillard featured thinly sliced medallions, pounded even thinner, then grilled in a flash. Still pink in the middle, the pieces of meat tender, almost buttery offered unparalleled flavor.
The lamb was suitably paired with braised fennel, Yukon potatoes, pistachio pesto and tomato vinaigrette.
Savory, slow-roasted salmon, clearly cooked with precision, was served with fingerling potatoes and the tiniest Brussels sprouts that were big on flavor another winning entree from The Farmhouse kitchen.
At first bite, Australian lamb ''osso buco'' almost took my breath away; its flavor was so intense, deep and layered. The braised shanks, cooked in the manner of the same veal cuts in the original Italian dish, were oh-so-tender and infused with the tastes and seasonings of the braising liquid.