Urban Farmhouse Market and Café
Liz Butterfield, October 2010
Walking into the Farmhouse, as the owner Kathleen Richardson calls it, you first notice the wide, spacious floor that gives the feel of airy openness. It’s sophisticated look bodes well with the floor-to-ceiling windows and over a dozen small tables, few couches and lounge chairs, making the Farmhouse a great place to enjoy a small lunch on a great fall day. The patrons looked all between the ages of 25 and 50, most of them working on their own, doing crosswords or reading, each enjoying his own all-natural snack.
Urban Farmhouse Market and Café is known for it’s all natural attitude, and boasts a menu chock full of organic, locally grown foods. But what is great about the Farmhouse is that it doubles as both restaurant and market pantry, with products ranging from a variety of wines, to organic chips and candy, and much more. The back wall is stocked with wines and other products, and the whole front bar is filled with items, most if not all from local producers.
But although I was impressed by the Farmhouse’s great variety of products, I was not as impressed by the restaurant half of the shop. The pastry selection was limited, and all the menu items were pricy. Many may argue that those prices are reasonable for such high-quality, organic food, but I just can’t bring myself to pay nearly $10 for a Turkey Havarti sandwich. Even the ham & swiss croissant I ordered was expensive, costing me $3.95, and large black coffee is a whopping $1.95. We were not really impressed with any of what we ordered, mostly because it was pricy and bland. The caramel latte was too sweet, and the coffee was really uninteresting (even complete with vanilla soy milk and Stevia 100% natural zero calorie sweetener). Sizes come only in medium and large, but the porcelain mugs made them more attractive than they tasted. Most food comes from local producers and farmers, and the Farmhouse offers a menu full of organic and all natural foods. Milk comes from homestead creamery in Burnt Chimney, VA, and coffee is provided by Williamsburg Coffee & Tea.
But as the atmosphere is just as important as the food, we found Urban Farmhouse to be an excellent work environment, or just a good place to relax and read the paper. Located in the historic and classy Shockoe bottom, Urban Farmhouse is the perfect blend of contemporary décor and old architecture. Although it is a hike from campus, it is a great place to visit if you can make it. The giant floor-to-ceiling windows that double as doors in the front of the store are beautiful, and they make the floor seem much bigger than it is. The music is subtle but soothing, the walls are decorated by a few paintings, and the accent lighting brings out the gentle colors between the tan hardwood floors the smooth white walls. The floor holds over a dozen tables, with a mix between round and small, perfect from small groups to have lunch, or working student. The large open space for couches, tables and lounge chairs makes a good blend of relaxed and low key, but also spacious and open. The design is very classy, yet still relaxing, and holds an air of sophistication that is not pretentious.
And yet the best thing about this place is the market. Compared to similar products at Trader Joe’s, than this place has a great variety amount of natural food and selection of wine, a majority of them locally produced. I really liked how this shop is a combination of market pantry and restaurant; it gives you a good place to get an all-natural snack, and get a little something to take home too.
Check out theurbanfarmhouse.net for more details, or just stop by, 1217 E. Cary St, open Monday to Thursday 6:30-9, Friday 6:30-10, Saturday 7:30-10, Sunday 7:30-9.