Make yourself at home at ‘The Farm'

Our Gourmet
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 01. 2012 1:27PM

The Farm Bar & Grille
1181 Elm St., Manchester

Serving: Open daily 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Happy Hour 3 to 6 p.m.

Cuisine: Comfort food, focus on barbecue

Prices: Entrees $13-$24; starters $3-$18; soup and salads $5-$15; burgers and sandwiches, $6 to $12.
If you are familiar with the downtown Manchester scene, you are no doubt used to seeing restaurants come and go at the corner of Elm and Bridge streets. Most recently it was Wings Your Way, and it has previously been home to Flambeaux, Chandler's, The Brass Monkey, Envy and the Salty Dog, among others. After our trip to The Farm Bar & Grille, which opened in January, we are hoping this incarnation breaks the curse and sticks around a while.

Menu: 19/20

The Dining Companion thought the menu was fun and interesting and raved about the variety of items - exactly his kind of menu, he said. There are several choices you don't see every day, including Beer-Battered Pickles and Pretzel Bites, and many old favorites such as burgers, ribs, smoked chicken and Shepard's (their spelling) Pie. With so many great choices, it was definitely hard to decide.

Starters: 17/20

Our Gourmet: The Three Ball Soup ($7) was billed as being a twist on dipping a grilled cheese in tomato soup, which happens to be one of my favorite flavor combinations. The homemade tomato soup is served with three fried mozzarella bites. The soup was chunky, almost the consistency of a tomato sauce, and was nicely seasoned. It was a little clumsy to eat because the mozzarella balls need to be cut in half if you don't want to make a mess of yourself, but it was worth the effort. (9/10)

TDC: I chose to try their homemade chili ($5 cup/$8 bowl). It consists of slow-cooked Angus beef, sweet onions, peppers, garlic, jalapenos, chilies, three types of tomatoes and the secret ingredient(s) listed as 'more.' The chili was served surrounded by fresh flour tortillas for people like me who like the choice of eating your chili as a dip or by the spoonful. The mixture packed a sweet taste with a balanced touch of spiciness mixed in. (8/10)

Entrees: 15/20

OG: To me, nothing says comfort food like a turkey dinner with all the sides, so I ordered the Gobble Gobble Gobble ($14), a traditional turkey dinner served with gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and a seasonal vegetable, which this night was butternut squash. Given the quality of the starters, my expectations were high. Unfortunately, the turkey was a bit dry and the stuffing and potatoes were pedestrian. But you can't complain about the portion size. The amount of food served could feed two. (6/10)

TDC: For an entrée I had the House Tips ($16). The tips are infused with a BBQ marinade and served with your choice of side. The portion was more than generous and left me worried that I would leave most of the plate untouched. This did not end up being the case. The marinade mixed perfectly with the tips natural juices and allowed my stomach to exceed my eyes' capacity. (9/10)

Desserts: 15/20

OG: There isn't a dessert menu per se; the server told us the desserts are locally baked on a daily basis so the selections vary. This time around, TDC half-heartedly offered me the last available piece of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, but I opted instead for the Coconut Cream Pie ($4.99). The crust was flaky, the filling sweet and full of coconut. I was pretty full at this point in the evening but it was so good, I challenged myself to eat as much as I could. It was a great way to end a meal. (8/10)

TDC: I was elated to hear that they had one piece of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie remaining. The pie packed more peanut butter than chocolate and added a nice exclamation point to the meal. You really can't go wrong when you serve, or choose to accept, the union of chocolate and peanut butter. (7/10)

Final thoughts: 18/20

The Farm has a lot going for it. It's a huge place with plenty of seating, including two bar and lounge areas. With all their TVs, I can imagine that this would be a great place to watch a Patriots game.

The music and décor give it an upbeat vibe. Our server was pleasant and very informative - she was the one who told us the restaurant's tables were made from wood from a New Hampshire barn. When the server has a good working knowledge of the place, it shows how invested they are in the job, and that can only mean good things for the business and the customers.

Total: 84/100

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