July 17, 2019

Truck to Table: Farm Cart Goes Brick and Mortar

Grub Notes

Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

Farm Cart

BIGGER AND BETTER: If you are going to shut down any praise of Farm Cart’s new brick-and-mortar location (1074 Baxter St., 706-850-8150) by complaining about the fact that its biscuits cost $9 or $10, then you can stop reading now. I thought I might be willing to hear out those objections, but the restaurant is so good and so willing to fight the good fight that I’ve decided to overrule them entirely. 

Farm Cart originally grew out of downtown’s beloved farm-to-table restaurant Farm 255, which operated for eight years where Iron Factory is now. The cute little cart hung out on the patio and served up a simpler menu based on whatever the chef felt like doing on a given day. When the restaurant closed, the cart was gone, too, for a while, until Michael and Iwalani Farfour revived it and started serving food at the Athens Farmers Market. With the closing of The Sultan, on Baxter, they saw an opportunity to expand, and they’ve done so very successfully. 

The restaurant version of Farm Cart captures some of the feel of the wheeled iteration, with corrugated metal covering the ceiling and the same rustic lettering as the outside of the trailer. If you want to be in the open air, the large patio remains an option, but there’s also AC. You can get breakfast all day, and lunch from 11 a.m. to close. The menu still isn’t big, but it’s bigger than the cart can handle, with a wider variety of meats and veggies alike. 

Buttermilk biscuit sandwiches are the main thing, with seven numbered options listed at the top of the menu, in the most prominent spot. And, yes, they cost between $9–$14, but they’re also roughly the size and weight of a softball, so the value ends up being pretty good. I almost never tell people to get the chicken (Peruvian restaurants aside), but the Fire Bird, with succulent Springer Mountain fried chicken thigh, fried egg, housemade pickles and Sriracha honey or Sriracha mayo (I recommend the latter), is possibly the best among them. The Carolina Boy (too-soft pulled pork in a mustard sauce with fried egg and apple-dill slaw) is more of a mush of flavors and doesn’t work quite as well, but the Veggie (two eggs, cheddar, arugula, avocado aioli and, if they’re ripe, some slices of tomato) is wonderful. 

Eating these fast is recommended. Leave them around, and the biscuit gets soggy and the flavors lose their sharpness, but right when they emerge from the kitchen, they’re pretty marvelous. The greens are assertive and delicate at the same time. The folks in the back room don’t skimp on the sauce, either. You may need more than one napkin. Add on a side of grits (Red Mule, plain or cheddar, a tiny bit too loose) or some amazingly crisp home fries for $1.50, and you really do have a substantial meal. 

Lunch brings some sandwiches, including one that’s billed as ham and cheese that actually consists of capicola, fried egg, white cheddar, greens, mustard and mayo on a housemade Hawaiian roll. It is a fat ball of goo and explosive taste. You may have noticed that the kitchen wants to put a fried egg on everything, and rightfully so. The eggs are as nice as everything else. There’s a butterfly kiss of sweetness to the biscuits and the roll, but it’s never overdone. There are burgers, too, including specials, but they don’t work quite as well as the other options. They’re a bit big and flat, and they take too long to eat, resulting in that same mush of flavors as above. 

Other things you can get include good granola bark packaged cutely in a bag—it would make a good hostess gift—chocolate chip cookies that aren’t too gooey, seasonal salads, Boylan fountain soda, Montane sparkling water, an array of coffee drinks and even a small selection of beer and wine. Farm Cart is open 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

AFIELD: Find yourself in Greensboro? You could do worse than to eat at The Yesterday Cafe (114 N. Main St., 706-453-0800), a generically named but not-bad-at-all Southern restaurant. Right in the middle of downtown, it gets pretty busy, but has a lot of space to handle the crowds. Does it seem likely that the buttermilk pie is actually world famous? Not so much, but it comes in a mini version that is pretty good. The vegetable plate is a good option, as the Southern-style sides are the place’s great strength, with particularly excellent squash casserole that is perhaps a match for the version served at Weaver D’s—something I don’t say lightly—but also greens, black-eyed peas and more. 

The cafe does lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday, and lunch alone Monday through Wednesday. Around the corner, Ripe Thing Market seems to have some good options, too, including fresh-made breakfast biscuits, produce and some interesting items, like dried hibiscus by the bag.