Restaurant Review: Farm Spirit in Portland, Oregon
Fine dining is often associated with high-quality meats, seafood, and decadent desserts. These foods have rich flavor profiles, complicated preparations, and impressive platings that often have very little to do with vegetables. But why? Can’t vegetables also be baked, fried, dehydrated, and plated intricately? Of course, and this vegan fine dining restaurant is here to show you exactly that.
Farm Spirit is a reservations-only restaurant that serves a nightly tasting menu. Every ingredient used is grown without a 105-mile radius and is always in season. If it’s not in season, it has been preserved from when it was in season.
Depending on the length of the tasting menu, there can be anything from two to five slots for reservations a night. Everyone is served in tandem; if you don’t show up on time, you miss experiencing those first few courses
While Farm Spirit is a fine dining experience, Chef Rico encouraged all of us to get comfortable. Suit and tie was not required, and most people showed up in what they wore to work or even more casual clothing. Rico also suggested to eat the food whichever way we felt most comfortable and to not worry about eating something “the right way.”
Our dining experience for the evening was a three-hour 15-course tasting menu of the food from the Cascadian region. Each course showcased a main ingredient in a truly innovative fashion. For instance, the Carrot Jerky was dehydrated then smoked. It tasted almost candied and the addition of tarragon and preserved lemon brought extra smoke and acidity to the delightful bite.
Due to the length of the menu, most courses were only two bites. But it was enough to be able to appreciate each vegetable. We enjoyed a kale raab, abalone mushroom, asparagus, celery, little gem lettuce, amarose potato, black trumpet mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli, abalone mushrooms, black garlic, green garlic, fennel, and more. They were fresh, fried, candied, baked, and everything else in between. Each dish was plated before your eyes, delivered as stunning finished products, and left us wanting more.
Farm Spirit is the ultimate regional culinary experience that just happens to be vegan. Per usual fine dining restaurants, you might still leave a bit hungry, but you’ll leave full of knowledge and intrigue about the Cascadian region.