Health food served on a metal tray in a grey canteen… how appealing does that sound? But it is all the unlikely pairings that gives this place its universal appeal. I went to the newly opened Farmer J’s sustainably sourced eatery on King William Street in the city and was in for a pleasant surprise.
The interior is sleek and distinctly contemporary, yet styled like a 1950s US deli. Cloud grey finishes are softened with hanging plants and a feelgood menu showcasing a map of the UK farms supplying the fresh, organic produce.
We were cheerily welcomed by our server, Vanessa, who encouraged us to order a selection of plates to share, tapas-style. Embrace this way of eating and you will get to experience the creativity and variety that this restaurant offers and sharing dishes does seem to inspire food-related conversation, which is never a bad thing! The suggested amount is 2-3 dishes per person and each portions was generous enough for us both to have enough to try.
Known for bringing the best of the fields to the City, Farmer J's dishes are influenced by the Mediterranean and beyond. There were choices such as Roast beef with tomato tartare and Whole roasted celeriac, with other options from the field including Freekeh herb salad with goat’s yoghurt, Roast beets with crème fraiche and the ultimate Veggie burger.
The first dish that was brought out was the chermoula chicken thigh. Tender, charred and full of flavour when dipped in the fresh, zesty sauce, the vibrancy of this plate set the mood for what was to come. The dishes were bold in colour and packed with flavourful bright flavours. Many dishes ran with the themes of warming, charred, spiced and seasonal and all were cooked from scratch in the open kitchens where we watched the chefs at work. Founder Jonathan Recanati hails from Israel and his background influences the flavours here with za’atar, harissa and tahini making repeated appearances on the menu.
I did not expect to be impressed by a mac’n’cheese, or some flatbread and really, what can be done to make your everyday cauliflower stand out? But through zingy sauces, delicate seasoning and careful cooking, Farmer J manages to make these dishes light, playful and exciting. I was particularly looking forward to the prawn dish but found the flavour lost beneath the chilli heat in the sauce and the prawns were a tad overcooked – my only disappointment.
The restaurant also boasts a comprehensive and diverse drinks menu containing signature cocktails, such as Chilli
If the wholesome menu isn’t enough to nourish your soul, Farmer J also partners with Magic Breakfast. This charity provides nutritious breakfasts in primary schools across the UK making sure that no child is too hungry to learn.
With terms such as 'sustainably sourced' and 'ethical', I did wonder if I was going to get image-driven fluff over substance, but not here. The delicious food sincerely speaks for itself and the prices are very reasonable too.
Visit Farmer J at 24–32 King William Street, London EC4R 9AJ and 107 Leadenhall Street, London EC3A 4AA. For more, and to order delivery, see farmerj.com