225 26th St. Ste 25
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Dining date: 6/30/13
My previous visit to Farmshop yielded one of my favorite singular dishes in Los Angeles – their fried chicken. Golden brown and crispy on the outside, while juicy and moist on the inside, it’s the best fried chicken I’ve had in this city. It’s been a while, but when recently pondering the choice of best spot for a fried chicken meal, a re-visit to Farmshop was in order.
Farmshop typically serves a seasonal/local a la carte dinner menu, but Sundays are reserved for a family style feast centered around the fried bird. The ever-changing three courses are $48, making this one of the steeper fried chicken meals you can get around here. Surrounding the main dish are typically lighter salads and sides which showcase the season’s produce.
Since my last visit, Farmshop has expanded to include a small marketplace full of artisan goods. Unfortunately it closed before our dinner ended, but my brief glimpses revealed some top-notch meats, cheeses, and a variety of other items a home cook would love.
Flora Bella Farm Cucumbers & Hummus french radishes, purslane, goat’s milk feta, sumac
The meal began with a base of garlicky hummus topped with a selection from the garden. The radishes, sliced cucumber, and purlane all provided a nice fresh bite to go along with the creamy hummus, while the cheese added a lot more character to the starter.
Two sides came to the table along with the pièce de résistance.
Marinated Red Rice poached cherry tomatoes, gypsy peppers, rocket arugula, smoked almonds
Schaner Farm Summer Squash roasted sweet corn, torpedo onion, genovese basil
These were both simply prepared and well-executed. While I appreciated the squash and roasted corn, the marinated red rice was more interesting with small bits of almonds adding texture and arugula providing some bite. Juicy cherry tomatoes brightened everything up.
Fried Jidori Chicken
When the fried chicken came out, I immediately thought it looked dark – a couple of stages past golden brown & delicious. While the meat was decently moist, biting into the crust yielded a very thick, crunchy batter that was a little difficult to swallow. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was burnt, but definitely overcooked for our liking. With images of the great fried chicken we had last time, we decided to send it back.
The kitchen said there was nothing wrong with it; that’s how they make their chicken to ensure it’s extra crispy. Regardless, they’d send out another batch for us to try.
The result was slightly less over-fried, but still in stark contrast to what I had last time. The meat itself wasn’t as juicy and lemon-scented as I remember, so it looks like they’ve changed their recipe/technique. Big disappointment.
Santa Rosa Plum Napoleon puff pastry, rosemary cream, opal basil, ginger plum sauce
There was supposed to be an option of cheese or dessert here, but the restaurant just brought two of these out. The flaky napoleon featured a nice herb-scented cream and fairly sweet peaches. It was a bit hard to eat with a fork though, with the cream being pushed out each time I tried to poke through.
Quite frankly, this was one of the most disappointing meals in recent memory. With the meal centered around the great fried chicken in a previous experience, being served a mediocre bird as part of a $48 menu just didn’t cut it. While the rest of the courses and sides were pretty good, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for that. Combined with the lapse in service on the third course, I don’t have any desire to return anytime soon..maybe ever.