FarmShop (Brunch): Staying Savory at Brentwood Country Mart

  • Home
  • American
  • FarmShop (Brunch): Staying Savory at Brentwood Country Mart
Brunch Los Angeles


The ideal pre-hike meal probably wouldn’t involve a visit to Farmshop, the months-old, market-driven concept at Brentwood Country Mart from Thomas Keller protegee Jeff Cerciello and business partner Michel Darmon. Well, maybe if you have restraint, but that certainly wasn’t the case during my initial visit with Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang prior to scaling nearby Westridge Trail. Though the stop didn’t exactly motivate movement, it turned out to be a very good idea. Our meal was expensive (partly because we overindulged), so it’s not a meal I’d have often, but the FarmShop crew may very well produce L.A.’s best brunch.

Cerciello spent 16 years working in the Napa Valley, initially at The French Laundry, and most recently, as Thomas Keller’s culinary director for Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc. However, the native Angeleno, who was born in Torrance and Raised in Laguna Beach, couldn’t resist Brentwood Country Mart founder Jim Rosenfield’s offer to return home.

The former City Bakery space now has an open kitchen, banquette and communal seating, vintage black-and-white photos of farmers on the walls and an unconventional “chandelier” in the center of the room involving railings and ropes that resemble DNA helixes.

Pastries Los Angeles
Pastry Chef and Head Baker Brittainy Turnquist previously demonstrated her abilities at Murray Circle, Della Fattoria. Each day, she fills the countertop near the entrance with dozens of tempting options, including muffins capped with glistening blueberries, fat slabs of brownie and double chocolate cookies that could potentially cover manholes.

Cookies Los Angeles
We opted for a lemon cookie sandwich with raspberry jam that featured soft cookies and wasn’t too sweet, and a savory leek Danish with flaky pastry that could easily qualify as a croissant.

To lead the savory side, Cerciello hired Executive Chef Joshua Drew, who worked with him at Ad Hoc and Bouchon and previously spent time in the kitchens of Vetri and Quince. This trip, we avoided all of the menu’s sweet options, including French toast with pear marmalade, raisins and Hobbs’ bacon; and the oatmeal with dried sour cherries, muscovado sugar and buttermilk.

Brunch Los Angeles
Our meal began in earnest with a hearty cup of Chicken Liver ($12), which was coarsely chopped and cleverly plated to provide a pair of complementary experiences. Sliced grapes contributed sweet acidity and jumbo caper berries packed more tangy punch (and crunch). The toasted sourdough from nearby Tavern had just enough give and served as a good vessel for the liver. It just would have been good to have more than three slices of of bread.

Brunch Los Angeles
Deviled Eggs ($8) were clever, with tarragon-laced smoked Idaho trout subbing for the yolk. The sweet-salty fish was drizzled with olive oil and simply plated with crisp spinach leaves.

Brunch Los Angeles
Pastrami & Eggs ($20) was the plate I was most excited to try, since it featured house-made pastrami. Prior to the opening, Drew said they were still looking to get it right, and though the spiced, fat-rimmed brisket tasted good, it didn’t have the intensity of flavor of a vanguard version like Langer’s. The portion size also could have been more generous. Still, the dish was well-balanced with green tomato ketchup, buttery fingerling potatoes and a trio of roasted mushrooms – oyster, beach and maitake – plus sunny-side up eggs that looked like they were ready to post for Bon Appetit and some good rye toast.

Brunch Los Angeles
Kang opted for a Frittata ($22), which was dense, buttery and plenty flavorful thanks to a generous helping of Hobbs’ bacon chunks, which were basically lardons. Up top, the disc supported a healthy dollop of creamy burrata, chanterelle mushrooms, squash and greens. On the side, he received more of that good rye toast.

$45 per person, including tax and tip, is a pretty extreme price to pay for brunch, but there are reasons to pay more for a meal every now and then. One is the premium ingredients, which were definitely in evidence, and the other is service, which was warm and welcoming. It’s funny. They actually had an anti-technology edict at the bottom of the menu: “Cell phones, tweeting and e-mailing have been proved harmful to other diners’ appetites. Please refrain.” Other than my camera, we actually stuck to that script. FarmShop provided such a relaxing environment that it was even able to tame a pair of techno-addicts, well, at least for an hour. That may have been worth the price of admission.

It will be good to return when FarmShop eventually debuts dinner, probably for the fried chicken that Cerciello helped to make famous at Ad Hoc. By spring, a temporary peek-through wall will also come down and a complementary market will feature a bakery, butcher shop, charcuterie, cheese, prepared foods, beer, wine, Heath ceramics and a larder.

FarmShop (Brunch): Staying Savory at Brentwood Country Mart

Tags:

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

The Farm Shop looks very appealing. May have to check this place out!

Josie,

FarmShop is your best brunch bet in that neighborhood. It’s also easy to combine with Sweet Rose Creamery. Enjoy.

OMG their leek and proscuitto danish was so good (although greasy) that I ate two in one sitting (in addition to other dishes)

Stuffycheaks,

Good point, that danish did have prosciutto in it, supposedly. It was listed on the accompanying card, but I don’t remember seeing any inside. It was good, but mainly minced leeks and not what I expected.

Wow, now I really want to go back to FarmShop — but next time with a bigger group and larger appetites.

Perhaps Michel Cordon Bleu’s terrific smoked trout available at Cookbook and McCalls’s would work for those wanting to try that dish at home…

Jessica,

Thanks for recommending a suitable smoked trout substitute. Good running into you at Cafecito Organico.

Josh, so, in other words, TJ’s version wouldn’t be up to snuff? 😉

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/seafood-products/trader-joes-pantry-canned-smoked-trout-140998

Haha, I know Joe must smoke a mean trout. No disrespect.

actually i cheated and tweeted. once. but amazing brunch

Mattatouille,

Glad you also enjoyed the brunch, but now that it’s known you tweeted while eating, you may not be allowed back in FarmShop. Heathen.

I’m glad you enjoyed it too. Yes, it is spendy, but it is high quality stuff. I am surprised they haven’t figured out yet that they haven’t been providing enough toast with the chicken liver, as I had the same experience in December. They brought it when we asked for it, but they should just bring ample the first time.

Try the fresh and smoked salmon tartine on your next visit: http://www.savoryhunter.com/2010/12/first-look-brunch-at-farmshop.html

Savory Hunter,

That fresh and smoked salmon tartine would have been drafted in the next round, if there was one. Next time, for sure. Combining fresh and smoked salmon is another clever twist.

I totally want to steal that deviled eggs with trout idea — bet I could make a couple dozen for $8! 😉

Diana,

Sometimes the best innovations are seemingly the simplest. It would clearly be possible to recreate FarmShop’s deviled eggs at home, but it might be tricky to find smoked trout that good.

Leave a Comment