Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chef and the Farmer is worth a trip

Outside the walls of Chef and the Farmer, downtown Kinston shimmers with a Southern Gothic vibe.  With decaying buildings and closed businesses lining much of the main drag, as well as an array of southern characters who might have been the decent folks in many a southern story, the city feels like it might fade away at any moment.

Step inside the restaurant, though, and while you'll never forget you're in the South, you're in a wholly better world, where the food is locally sourced and many of the dishes are delicious interpretations of southern classics.

Consider, for example, these two appetizers.

On the left, we have slow-cooked grits, but with turnip run-ups and egg and tomatoes and a pecan pesto.  The combination melded many textures with a wonderful grits base, and it was delightful.  The flatbread showcased asparagus, with small bits of roasted asparagus and an asparagus parmesan cream.  It was also delicious.

All the dishes were at least good, and some were better.  The beef rib was the best I've had outside of Texas, smoky and tender.

The only thing wrong with this dish was its size:  the rib had to contain a solid pound of meat.  I needed many more people to share it and didn't even come close to finishing it--in part because I was determined to sample the desserts.

They proved to be equally good, with the first chocolate chess pie I've really loved--perhaps because it was more a flourless chocolate tart of a pie than a true chess pie.

In my ranking system, Chef and the Farmer did not make it to world-class, but it was absolutely top-drawer.  I do not regret the trip here to try it.  If it was in the Triangle, I'd go regularly.

Given the rest of Kinston, I'm not sure I'll be back here again, but I am glad I came this time.


David Drake said...

Dear Mark,
Kinston's as close to the beach as it is to anywhere. Maybe as an alternative to Mexican?

Mark said...

Alas, it's over two and a quarter hours from the beach house to the restaurant. I think Mexican wins by proximity.

Laura Haywood-Cory said...

If you're dining out with a group that enjoys beer, Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston is also worth a stop.

Mark said...

Thanks for the tip. I don't drink alcohol, but if I'm ever back there with a group, I'll check it out.


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