The fact that The Farmhouse Tap & Grill wasn’t open yet didn’t stop potential diners from stopping by. “We’ve had a lot of people walking in,” says owner Jed Davis. He conjectures that the dramatic revamping of the restaurant’s building, which once held Burlington’s only McDonald’s, drove the intense interest.
Starting Tuesday, the curious can drop in for dinner and a peek at the redesign. The Farmhouse team, which also includes American Flatbread Burlington Hearth owners Rob Downey and Paul Sayler, began soft openings Saturday night with a cocktail party. Friends and family were invited for a test run of the menu on Sunday night. On Monday, the staff fed contractors who had labored to beautify the building — which Davis says was “an eyesore,” when they purchased it.
The team has had minor setbacks. When chef Phillip Clayton, formerly sous-chef at Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill, tried out the mixer this weekend, it turned out to be faulty. He had to obtain a new one quickly so he could produce homemade brioche buns for the restaurant’s burgers.
Speaking of the patties, Davis says that of five specialty burgers (plus a design-your-own option), the one with local venison, Jasper Hill blue cheese, local cranberry mostarda and arugula has been most popular. Also a hit are appetizer towers, which include choices such as steak tartare crisps, ham and eggs, and chicken paté toasts, says Davis. Full dinners, such as chicken and biscuits, meatloaf and mac ’n’ cheese, will debut soon. They plan to begin lunch service in June.
Davis is eager to thank the craftspeople whose contributions helped build the buzz around the restaurant. The hip design for the space came from Steve Farrar of 23 Tons in Richmond. Steve Conant of Conant Metal & Light repurposed lights from old telephone insulators, barn-door hinges and sprinkler systems.
But most of all, Davis says he’s grateful to the people of Burlington for their “support and curiosity. It’s a special restaurant we’re building, and you can feel that in town.”