Prairie-Style Gastropub Explodes With Urban Character and Fab Food
Using only one sentence, if I could describe The Farmhouse at Jessup Farms I’d say "This Fort Collins restaurant is a storybook filled with chapters of food, people, and the renaissance of 130-year-old property." Overlooking a Colorado basin, the NOCO hot spot is an excellent place to explore the gastropub filled with hospitality delivering delicious cuisine in an urban farm atmosphere. Here's what Food&Forks learned during our visit at this fine-dining establishment:
My trusty companion, Kashmir Lever and I both recommend the venue as an ideal location for a gal-pal luncheon or a romantic evening.
Arriving at the location, we were picturing ourselves as stars on the set of “Little House on the Prairie”, immediately fantasizing we could be one of the Ingalls girls… minus the bonnets, of course. It felt as if we were on a time machine taking us back to a homestead where chickens roam and fresh milk is squeezed into a pail. Nonetheless, the atmosphere is so fun I almost forgot we were there to work!
A rustic backdrop leads through a threshold of an older chic and vintage house.
The exterior architecture creates this wonderful Mid-Western heritage, now a modern farm loaded with tons of character and charisma.
Once inside, you'll find an antique bar full of fresh ingredients where mixologists create lovely elixirs, standard cocktails and give a warm homecoming. They also promote an excellent wine selection keeping taste buds dancing from reds to whites. Besides having a full bar, the venue provides an intoxicating experience with all historic surroundings.
Decorations, create the mood, of the dining room and upstairs area with splashes of actual farm equipment. Old tin cans, metal lamps, brick walls, and wood flooring are all part of the quality. A mix of delicate and bold accents brings the house up to date with modern appeal. Exceptional and purposeful, this adorable lunch and dinner restaurant is fascinating with retro countertops to cozy couches with pillows featuring old-country charm.
While the venue may tell its story, a more personal ingredient to the entire recipe is general manager, Steven Sorensen who gave his narrative for the catalyst opening the gastropub.
As a family project, Steven and his uncle saved the property from being consumed by yet another FOCO commercial development. You feel his pride as he is a beacon beaming with participation and support. As a successful entrepreneur, he’s approachable yet possesses a relentless eye for food, service, and atmosphere, where you'd never guess his education has nothing to do with the industry. We found this young man's story intriguing where his accomplishments ring loudly and should be an inspiration to anyone looking to open a restaurant.
"You're Only As Good As Your Customers and Staff"~ Steven Sorensen
Sorensen’s background comes from a place of passion where he speaks about the renaissance of The Farmhouse and the importance of treating staff as a family. You can sense happiness from his employees who have a strong work ethic delivering excellence in service. The general manager strives in making both his co-workers and clients feel significant. This GM truly understands the meaning of exceptional dining and embraces everyone because this project is so dear to his heart.
The royal treatment continues as Steven escorts us to a corner table, which was quiet and fun. I enjoyed the pillows. (my house is full of them) and an open dining area where you can see the chefs prepping your meal. Once seated, our fabulous server Tony recommends a few cocktails to set the pace for the rest of our experience.
Our mixologist surprised us with two whimsical cocktails. The base for both drinks is tequila, holding the perfect kick for an afternoon lunch. The lavender martini which wasn't sweet but tastes of fresh flowery undertones is fantastic as well as pretty. But, the "Wendy Peffercorn" boasts a honey grapefruit, ginger, and zesty pomelo creating a 'sunny' composition.
The cocktails blend well with Chef’s selection of appetizers. The beautiful arrangement of basil and heirloom tomatoes brighten the room as they’re joined with a 7-day cured pork belly bites. They pair this dish with sweet potato mash and drizzle with a molasses gravy where we were drooling over the presentation.
They smoke the pork belly over a hickory treatment for 6-7 days giving an impact of flavor. The molasses glaze topping adds extra 'pow' with each bite-sized tender piece evaporating slowly and booming with savor. But, how dare they serve these pork gems over a plate of scrumptious, sweet potatoes? All we know is this appetizer is downright spectacular! Needless to say, we gobbled them down with a smile.
The Caprese is a harmony of personality, all on its own. A delicate dressing coats the gorgeous green and cherry tomatoes. Chef serves the heirlooms with whipped, creamy goat cheese as smooth as frosting. The finish includes a beautiful vinaigrette over the rest making the presentation as delightful as a dish of ice cream.
The “Uncle Mike”, named after Steven’s relative and co-partner, is our main course. The unity of ingredients includes succulent grilled chicken, smokey applewood bacon, crispy Granny Smith apples, and gooey cheddar cheese on slices of toast. Trust me, this sandwich makes a sight for hungry eyes and is ideal for those who don't want to get full during lunchtime. Tater-tots fried in duck fat and sprinkled with a mild cotija make an excellent side. Also joining the pair preserved pickle spears and spicy marmalade for dipping. On a side note, I love they offer homemade condiments from Colorado Catsup co-oping toward greatness.
Chef also serves an impressive salad bursting with brightness and color. The bed of greens is remarkably beautiful with an array of pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, baby Brussels sprouts, and beautiful butternut squash. They call the enchanting dish the "Fall Harvest Salad" which is a descriptive title for the season. They top this leafy dish with sweet and tart maple fig dressing where I'll admit "Fork an A" is it ever good!
The host of our visit recommended we pair our exclusive lunch with a smooth Chardonnay which he brought from his private collection. The nice white was captivating and almost like drinking water as it was so crisp and smooth with very little taste of alcohol. It made a good match with the salad-sandwich combo. But, as I normally do, I've included some research:
The Prisoner Wine Company and their Blindfold White Wine is a fantastic blend of crisp green grapes known as the Rhône. The California growers who cultivate this wine strive for something unique, and they have a winner. The bottle features artwork including a sketch of a man blindfolded, tied to a wooden stake. The presentation is nowhere near as dark as the labeling. The taste was distinct where Steven once again made an impact with his knowledge and how to read his guests.
“This wine is a lot of fun to make as a specific region or variety not constrained us. We used Chardonnay as our canvas and layered on interesting aromatic varietals that complimented the base to create something is unlike anything out there.”
—Chrissy Wittmann, Winemaker
After the main course, we had the pleasure of meeting Executive Chef, Joel Navejas. Joel is also a partner which is another nugget we learned about him. The other was his transparency telling us his quest to work in Asian cuisine where he studied at the California Culinary Academy. Joel integrates his recipes with incredible knowledge of food making his cooking the ideal match for this venue.
The grand finale features an arrangement of bread pudding medallions with a cascade of caramel and a scoop of hand-crafted ice cream making a thrilling finish to a spectacular meal.
In conclusion, we love the idea they saved this old farmhouse from being leveled for another vacant and new apartment building. Another awesome aspect of this family-owned business is the dedication to making the venue hold a comfortable place to gather. Ultimately, you'll love it as much as we do!
The Food&Forks grade for this restaurant is a deserving 5-forks. Our service was wonderfully warm, the atmosphere created by Tony, Steven and Joel gave us a flawless introduction to The Farmhouse. All the pampering led to a beautiful and collaborative experience from chef to staff. They impressed us with culinary excellence making this antique bistro a place where we'd refer even our most discerning friends. We highly recommend visiting whether it's for a casual dinner or a special occasion.