Tale of the Tape: Farmers’ Cabinet

What was once going to be the Grainery and then American Grain Exchange opened yesterday as Farmers’ Cabinet. We forgive the name changes as the Farmers’ Cabinet comes with quite the story.  Originally a Philadelphia publication of the early 1800s the Farmers’ Cabinet is believed to be the first place the word “cocktail” appeared in print.

The Management

  • Farmers’ Cabinet is brought to us by Matt and Colleen Swartz and partner Matt Scheller
  • The team is also behind:
    • Fork & Barrel (East Falls)
    • Tap & Table (Emmaus, PA)
    • The Bookstore Speakeasy (Bethlehem, PA)
  • Chef Peter Felton
    • Has worked at each of the group’s restaurants
  • Damon Dyer
    • Drinks expert of New York
    • Formerly bar-tended at Brooklyn’s Clover Club
    • Has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Wine Enthusiast and Food & Wine
  • Terry Hawbaker
    • Award winning craft brewer
    • Former brewer of Williamsport’s acclaimed Bullfrog Brewery

The Space

  • Space outfitted with large beer barrels
  • Mounted animal busts
  • Wooden beams lit by candlelight
  • Victorian elegance
    • Tufted couches
    • oil lamps
    • Damask blue and white wallpaper
  • Two bars, one for cocktails, one for beer
  • Walk-up meat and cheese counter
  • Communal dining tables
  • Largest communal table seats up to 60
  • The team did all the work in the space themselves

The Cocktails

  • Classic cocktails and modern revisions
  • Highlights:
    • Bespoke Whiskey Sour, with a choice of bourbon, rye, Irish whiskey, Scotch, Japanese whiskey or un-aged White Dog Whiskey, with fresh lemon and sugar
    • Pirate’s Coffee, a blend of Irish whiskey and spiced rum, served hot with brown sugar, coffee and hand-whipped cream
    • Round Midnight, dark cherry jam shaken with rum and fresh lemon and topped with Champagne
    • Barrel Aged Martinez, “The Martini’s Granddaddy,” gin and sweet vermouth stirred with a bit of maraschino liqueur and aromatic bitters and then aged for 30 days in a used bourbon barrel.
  • Cocktails will range from $10 to $12
  • Cocktail List (PDF)

The Beer

  • 26 beers on tap
    • Primarily European craft beers
    • Taps will be grouped in to categories by region
  • Beers priced $7 to $10
  • Half sizes are available
  • 80 bottles
  • Look for frequent guests from European artisan breweries
  • Coming later this year will be beers brewed by Hawbaker
    • Two barrel fermenting system built on premises
    • Expect unusual beers and sour ales
  • Beer List (PDF)

    The Food

    • Chef Felton refers to the food as “‘wild’ in the best possible sense – the kind of things you might have enjoyed in this region back when much of it was farms and woolands.”
    • Highlights:
      • Bone Marrow and Roasted Cippolini Soup with butter fried croutons
      • Tarro, Lotus and Beet Root Chips with black garlic and crème fraiche dip
      • Bourbon-Braised Escargot with Tasso ham and caramelized shallots
      • House-Ground Brisket and Bacon Burger, topped with fried egg, Bibb lettuce and heirloom tomato
      • Peekytoe Crab Roll Sandwich with heirloom tomatoes and lettuce
      • Spring Pea Barotto with sweet corn and wild mushroom preserva
    • Dishes will range in price from $5 to $32
    • Food Menu (PDF)

    Farmers’ Cabinet
    1113 Walnut St

    Farmers’ Cabinet Slideshow [f8b8z]

    Open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Lunch and brunch will be added later.

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    • Matt

      With the dead animals on the wall and what seems like lots of meat choices on the menu, it’s like a vegetarians worst nightmare….Can’t wait to try it!

    • barryg

      The menu reminds me of the days when man would eat lotus chips and Bourbon-braised escargot without the hassles of modern city living.

    • Snake

      Barryg, you don’t think that I might have enjoyed a Peeky Toe crab roll sammich in this region back when much of it was farms and woodlands? Back then, they would have had no way to Google “barotto” either. Currently, Google only returns links to this same press release here and at other sites.

      I kid but it does sound good.

    • brianbrews

      Screw the food when do Hawbaker’s beers go on tap?

    • kbor

      Barryg on winning comment of the week trophy.

    • cjtst11

      Food was not up to par – I am hoping that’s just opening weekend miscues. Good ideas but poor execution. Gritty, dirty romaine in the Caesar, really undercooked peas in the ham chop succotash and the crab roll – not sure what went wrong there. No real flavor, the “heirloom tomato” was mealy and the roll was stale. Crab seemed like it might have been a day too old. The pea shoot salad was excellent… I think (optimistically) these can all be fixed. There’s real potential here, they just need to execute.

      But the good stuff included the awesome Euro draft list, unlike any place in town, and the cocktail list which was really interesting without being too over the top.

      I’ll be back in a few weeks to have a beer or two and see if they’ve ironed out the kitchen issues.

    • egads

      Where is he getting heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn in March? My guess is the hot house and the freezer. I dont think that had either on of those when the area was farms and “WOOLANDS” (HIS SPELLING NOT MINE)? Lets not even bring up the black garlic (is that even from the US?)

    • cjtst11

      That’s a good point too, the spelling was strangely inconsistent with some words spelled correctly in some places on the menu and not in others.

    • Lala

      Black garlic is just regular garlic fermented. I haven’t heard much about it outside of Michael Solomonov (love)and Asian cooking sites (love, love).

    • barryg

      @Lala, right and it was invented in the 21st Century in Japan or Korea.

      I’m giving this menu a hard time; the concept is ridiculous but it actually sounds really good and I’m looking forward to checking it out.

    • Willie

      You should give it a hard time, it’s poorly conceived & executed. I met Felton, he had some unrealistic expectations of how they were going to go about this.
      How hard is it to make sure you don’t use stale bread?

      Nice looking space, though, I will give them that.