The spaces and details at the Bachelor Farmer have always been so heartbreakingly beautiful and precise, the entire place is like an art piece: afghan "wallpaper", silver toast caddies, Moleskins for check pockets so diners can leave pithy comments and love letters for cute servers. The design details are unmistakably big budget, yet they still seem to want to say: "aw, shucks."
The food has also always been an impressive mashup of farm-meets-form — they focus on local and seasonal bounty, but don't settle for how grandma would have done it.
The new Bachelor Farmer Cafe, in the former Askov Finlayson space (Askov Finlayson recently expanded into a larger space next door) is no different. The stunning tile work was handmade and handpainted especially for the project. The sandwiches are so prettily composed you want to start an Instagram account on the spot. There's a turntable in the bakery case. This is what people are talking about when they say the North Loop is the new world-class place to be. You look around and think: "Where even am I?" This is not the Warehouse District of yore. It's Brooklyn-esque, with our unmistakably coy Nordic details.
Wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and enter here, where all will be set straight. What is likely to be the best cup of coffee available pretty much anywhere, the finest croissant, the most precise sandwich and the best-looking staff. It's sunny, it's hip, and the Alabama Shakes spin on the record player. What the heck else do you want out of breakfast?
They're open for lunch, too, with a casual-ification of their dinner menu that essentially means you're eating the same stuff that comes out of that very same kitchen, at a fraction of the cost and often in sandwich form. Roasted ham is topped with local camembert and last summer's zucchini that they've dutifully preserved (almost all of the sandwiches feature a seasonal preserve, a culinary ethic that they steadfastly adhere to in the kitchen); duck confit comes with roasted cabbage and pickled sweet peppers; and our favorite, cured salmon sings with pickled root vegetables and creme fraiche. These are the "lighter side" of the menu priced at $6-$8. You can also choose a "closed sandwich," heartier affairs that are no less elegant. All the bread is made in-house by pastry chef Emily Marks.
The smart gentility of the sandwiches is totally charming — they're hearty and filling, yet still manage to be the sort of thing you can eat in front of another person. In other words, you needn't employ but one hand and one napkin at a time. If a sandwich can benefit from streamlined Swedish design, then these most certainly do.
Marks, formerly of much-heralded Rustica Bakery, is responsible for the dazzling pastry case, a grown-up's candy store of temptations. They've purposefully tried to keep things reasonably wholesome — using savories and keeping sugar to a minimum, so that people can stop in every morning "and not feel like they're getting their day off to a funky start," says Eric Dayton, who owns Bachelor Farmer with his brother Andrew. Try the cheese muffin, a corn muffin stuffed with a goat cheese and cheddar "ball." Funky, in just the right way.
Other pastry selections include ones that BF diners have come to know and love from the restaurant's now-retired brunch time pastry cart, like a brioche bun with ganache and pastry cream called "Selma."
It all feels like a real service to the neighborhood, in the sense that if a neighborhood had one of these, you'd seriously consider the wisdom of ever moving away. This is curb appeal.
Once the weather cooperates, an adjacent beer garden space will play host to a converted Airstream food truck that will post up at the back of this bank of tables. They're not sure how late they can go (they want to remain respectful to the neighbors, naturally) but Dayton says the space will also act as an ad hoc green space for the neighborhood, whenever anyone wishes to use it.
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