It's not often that I get excited for a restaurant opening, but the Fairmount and Art Museum area Fare, which bills itself as a "wine bar and organic kitchen," got my interest piqued and mouth watering with their menu alone.
Sure, there are all the buzz words and statements on the menu of any conscious restaurant — organic, local, free-range, grass-fed — but Fare steps up the consciousness game by stating that most of their dishes are gluten free, vegan cheeses can be substituted, and, probably most uncommonly, Fare states, " We do not season our dishes heavily, instead allowing the fresh and natural flavors to shine through."
Thank you! It's so easy for restaurants to take the easy way out of making food taste great with tons of salt and butter.
On our initial visit we opted to sit outside on the bustling Fairmount sidewalk in the shadow of Eastern State Penitentiary's castle-like magnificence, so didn't get to experience the sleek interior bar or plush dining room. A reasonably priced carafe of Yellow + Blue organic rosé settled us in, then we switched to an also fairly priced glass of Plungerhead Zinfandel. It is rare to be overwhelmed by so many compelling vegetable options at a restaurant that isn't strictly vegetarian or vegan, but Fare managed to do just that.
I relented and let the boy get the pink peppercorn encrusted raw cashew "cheese" plate since he's the nut freak. It's best to not think of nut "cheese" as cheese, but as a nut pâté.
Fare's cashew cheese is soft, subtly seasoned (this is where the salt-addicted are going to complain), with a perfect peppercorn bite. Dehydrated, faintly sweet vegetable chips, and a slightly awkward to balance on a fork sunflower sprout salad topped with shredded carrots, orange supremes, and coconut flakes rounded out the plate.
A good sized bowl of watercress, grapefruit, avocado and blue cheese dressed with a minted vinaigrette was just divine. So simple, yet still exciting.
Oh, and there's seitan on the menu! Crispy edged seitan slathered in a tangy tomato barbeque sauce blankets a thick hunk of polenta, and the sweetest broccoli rabe I've ever had. Fare nailed elegant vegetarian comfort food on the head!There is more than just one (or two!) vegetarian entrees on Fare's menu. Our forks went back and forth between the rich, earthy wild mushroom patty topped with asparagus, and the herbal carrot patty topped with edamame hummus before deciding that both were equally great. The side of lightly sauteed matchstick zucchini and squash was so simple and so good — no thick or rich sauces needed to mask summer's flavors.
I gotta say, I'm a little jealous that the Fairmount neighborhood has acquired such a great restaurant serving healthy, yet elegant and inventive dishes while letting the food's true flavors shine. If I could, I would have Fare be my personal chef; they are making exactly the kind of food I would like to eat every day. A return visit is in fast order!
2028 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130