FARM the long-anticipated Janice Beaton restaurant on 17th Avenue S.W. has finally arrived. To my delight this relatively new-to-Calgary dining concept spotlights the ideology and flavours behind the slow food movement. This return to simplicity emphasizes local ingredients and homestyle goodness in a world where big-brand food and industrial operations have replaced the farmer down the lane.

Attached to the new Janice Beaton Fine Cheese location FARM is picture-perfect. Tastefully designed its open kitchen space employs chocolate and floral walls tea lights in bone china communal dining tables and an eclectic selection of lighting. Blending touches of country rustic with a modern sophistication the space puts a playful twist on the traditional prairie dining room.

FARM’s small plate menu focuses on fresh local and seasonal ingredients. In addition to the main menu there are two other options for ordering — the wall-sized chalkboard of daily creations and the cutting board which features a medley of tantalizing charcuterie items.

Starting with the cutting board selections my boyfriend and I ordered landjaeger sausage ($5.50) from Alberta producer Old Country Sausage as well as the Riopelle a raw cheese with a thin bloomy rind made from cow’s milk ($6.50). Plated on a wooden cheese board with dried cherries pickled pearl onions cornichons and a fresh baguette the board was thoughtfully compiled and tasty.

From the chalkboard we ordered the evening’s feature salad a play on the Greek salad –the mélange featured local Broxburn tomatoes feta red onions and fennel ($9). Fresh and vibrant the tomatoes and fennel were a lovely combination tossed in a savoury pine nut vinaigrette.

We also had the arugula and spinach salad with duck confit crisp apple slices and roasted hazelnuts ($12). I admit to nearly licking the bowl clean after sampling this sensational salad. The crunch of the apple and hazelnuts balanced beautifully with the tender duck and flavourful vinaigrette.

Our next small wonder was the goat cheese fritter with young spinach shaved fennel and Lund’s roasted beets ($12). Be forewarned to enjoy this dish you must adore goat cheese. The gooey fritter was brilliant — with the beets and fennel offering a mild counterpoint to the richness of the cheese.

We couldn’t resist Janice’s bubbling mac ’n’ cheese ($10) accompanied by a side of sweet pickles. Topped with breadcrumbs this homestyle dish featured penne pasta in a Gruyère and aged cheddar cream sauce spiked with cayenne. The sumptuous mac ’n’ cheese was paired with Big Rock’s Espresso Stout which is just one more example of FARM’s local focus — pairing local food with a locally produced craft beer.

Rounding out our evening of slow food our server treated us to a tasting of FARM’s in-house raspberry beer a sweet libation that went fabulously with homemade chocolate chip cookies — just like grandma used to make.

The service at FARM is professional and confident. Its staff pay attention to the little details that make dining experiences memorable. You will be pleased you stopped in for a taste of our region’s finest.

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