Farmstand in Covent Garden
Winding through the maze of Covent Garden streets, finding somewhere to stop off for lunch is never exactly taxing. Especially in recent years, as the healthy living crowd have expanded out from recipes and glossy photos into full sized cafes and restaurants. Colourful salads, lots of pulses, wood and bare walls. So many tones of white and camel one might think they had stumbled into the culinary equivalent of Zara. Farmstand ticks all those boxes, and it makes us nervous.
After all, the food in such places is so rarely as good as it looks splashed across social media. Overpriced and undersized is normally the order of the day, portions made for size zero mid-20s who think exciting flavour is something other than a little fresh basil on their courgette spaghetti. When we take a look at the menu and see the concept, those fears only intensify. A main and two sides, or three mains, in a nice little box, perfect for your lunch. We’re polarised: it’s either going to be fantastic or yet another pretty but bland iteration of food in kilner jars.
Sweet Potato with Ginger and Coconut Yoghurt scolds us for our temerity with such fervour that we feel a little guilty for assuming the worst. It’s absolutely superb, the tang of the yoghurt perfect against the sticky, jammy hunks of vegetable. It’s one of those pairings you instinctively note down for later personal use, something good enough to become a staple in your own kitchen. Lamb Meatballs are hefty great things, solid enough to give you a good meal but not overly heavy. They’re served in a tomato sauce that’s lapped up all the best juices from the meat, dark and powerful, peppered with spikes of fennel. Harissa Chicken with a sweet, red pepper sauce is big, bold and oh so delicious. Lentils with Cucumber and Dill, Split Fava Beans, Roasted Peppers & Pumpkin, Broccoli, Tahini & Sesame Seeds… If it all sounds mouthwatering, it’s because it is.
There are a few false starts. The pasta salad tastes great but the texture is limp, an unfortunate side effect of the gluten free maize used to make it. A Medley of Squash, Corn and Tomatoes is fine, if bland, as is the rice, but then that’s not the worst thing in the world. They do both a great job of mopping up that rich, lamb-infused sauce from the meatballs, which has a midas touch on everything it comes in contact with.
And to top it all off, Farmstand comes with outstanding credentials. The restaurant saves on waste, for example, by having customers dispense for themselves free water, still or sparkling, from a little tap. Straight into a glass jug, so no bottled water, no discarded containers, and no having to drink with plastic. A focus on sustainable and seasonal ingredients is always a commendable initiative, but the big drawback is normally the price. With all that good intention comes heavier costs; using fresh produce takes time, effort and manpower. Here, though, a box will set you back just £7.50, which, given the quality of the food, is honestly quite exceptional.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Silvia Sternardi
To book a table at Farmstand, 42 Drury Lane Covent Garden WC2B 5AJ, call 020 7240 3866 or visit here.