When a restaurant in Boca is packed on a Tuesday night less than two months after opening, you can be sure the owners have a hit on their hands.
I'll even go so far as to say that come February, Farmer's Table will be the toughest reservation in Palm Beach County.
That's because the restaurant serves exactly the kind of food we should all be eating right now — fresh, healthy, delicious — which also happens to be its motto. It takes all the health lessons we've ever learned and distills them into a moderately priced menu.
Chef and owner Joey Giannuzzi avoids excessive salt and fat. He uses no butter or cream. There isn't a deep fryer or microwave in the kitchen. Giannuzzi buys meat raised without antibiotics or hormones. The seafood is sustainable. He avoids produce that typically contains the highest level of pesticides, opting to use organic apples, tomatoes, potatoes and seven other fruits and vegetables. Much of the produce is purchased locally. Some of it is grown in front of the restaurant.
I've been a fan of Giannuzzi since the first time I took home food from his Green Gourmet in Delray Beach. Mitchell Robbins, the co-owner of Farmer's Table, felt the same way.
Robbins is a real estate developer and owner of the adjoining Wyndham Hotel. He wants to turn the property into a community health and wellness center. He convinced Giannuzzi to shutter Green Gourmet and take charge of Farmer's Table.
Now that I've explained their premise, you can forget all I've written about healthful food. This is just good food.
Korean chicken wings ($12) with cucumber kimchi and "Seoul" sauce, for instance, have all the intense flavor of Korean fare without all the fat you get from deep frying. Lower-fat grass-fed beef short rib is used in the tacos ($9), along with pico de gallo wrapped in sprouted corn tortillas. Edamame shrimp dumplings ($10) with dashi consomme could have come right off a dim-sum cart.
I don't generally go to restaurants to eat salads, but an entire section of the menu is devoted to greens ($9-$16), to which protein such as grilled chicken ($6), salmon ($12) and tuna salad ($6) can be added. You don't have to eat salads at Farmer's Table to eat healthfully.
Flatbreads, for instance, are made with whole-grain flour, and I could swear there was butter in the crispy crust. There's not. We chose shrimp and roasted corn ($10) from the four varieties. Chili-lime, sharp cheddar cheese, red peppers and organic spinach add up to the perfect appetizer.
The menu includes a section devoted to "handhelds," or sandwiches, including grass-fed beef burger ($15), falafel ($11) and a Greek-style chicken ($12) wrapped in naan. Only a few dishes don't make it from the lunch to dinner menu.
Among the house specialties is the big-flavored jumbo chicken chop tagine ($17) with turmeric-scented couscous, golden raisins, preserved lemon and baby carrots. Buddha bowl ($16) reminded me of a healthful Vietnamese pho. You choose between chicken, shrimp or spiced tofu, which is mixed with stir-fried vegetables, noodles and a light broth. It's topped with a gingered egg. Florida snapper ($22) is served alongside grilled asparagus, butternut squash puree and herb citronette. And if you love chicken and dumplings ($19) but don't want the fat and calories, try the version served here. The dumplings are gluten-free and served with chicken and roasted root vegetables. The big flavor comes from caramelized shallot jus instead of thickened cream or broth.
The dessert menu is the only place where "healthful" becomes apparent. The desserts are made without butter, cream, refined sugars, flours or gluten. That's a high bar when we're trained for sugar and fat after a meal.
Brownie-fudge bundt cake ($7) with almond gelato lacked richness. Wood-fried apple crisp ($6) was better, but not what we'd expected. If you're a skip-dessert kind of person, Farmer's Table is for you.
It won't make you skip booze. The wine list is compact. There's an artful cocktail list and plenty of craft beer in bottles and draft.
The gray-washed furniture and rough wooden finishes give the dining room a quiet vintage feel. The gorgeous patio looks onto the hotel pool. Nothing about the design suggests you're dining in a restaurant that offers vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free choices. It's just the way we eat.
1901 N. Military Trail, Wyndham Hotel, Boca Raton