Located toward the bottom of Bastion Square, The Farmhouse shares the same building with its more popular affiliate, The Local (thelocalvictoria.com).
Climbing the stairs from Wharf Street, on one of Victoria’s more blistering days, I aimed for the big black awning and found that despite its enormity, exactly half of one narrow timber table on the patio was shaded but already occupied. Everyone else was inside.
Inside is rustic, indeed.
A ceiling of unfinished planks drips with rusty barn lamps while rough stone on one wall contrasts with century-old brick and ballast on the other.
The same heavy timber outside provides tables inside, all lined along the brick and ballast wall and surrounded by sturdy old wooden chairs, all of which were full.
However, there remained a number of stools, set before twin counters, one offering a view of the unshaded patio. The other was offering an elevated view over the service counter. And so now that I’ve had you climb all the way up the Bastion staircase, I will have you climb down, only a few steps, to approach that counter.
Here you’ll find the display case filled with baked treats, including a variety of muffins and what appear to be from the local sensation Empire Donuts (empiredonuts.ca). At least I recognize the star-shaped drizzle on the earl grey doughnut. I am sorely tested, but if I’m going to give in, I’ll need to justify my indulgence with lunch first, for I reason that fewer calories will be absorbed if my stomach is already full of less decadent things.
The menu hangs on the rough stone wall behind the display case and offers a flight of sandwiches. It was a hard decision, but I went with the reuben ($15). It’s a classic, with Montréal smoked meat shaved thin and stacked high, shredded sauerkraut, molten mozzarella, dijon mustard all set on a … white bun? Well, it’s not a hot dog bun or a hoagie: not really. It is more artisan than either of those, but it’s not marbled rye either: the classic crust. It is served on a cutting board, sans sides, and I wave off my disappointment and take a stool at the window counter. But this is a beautiful reuben in which the smoked meat reigns supreme. The cheese is playfully stringy and gooey, while the vinegary sauerkraut and zesty dijon give the sandwich its bright edge. Honestly, I did not miss the rye.
But now for that doughnut. Earl grey is clearly calling to me, but there is my childhood favourite looking extra spectacular, and all alone. It’s the last one, the apple fritter ($4). How many times have I been disappointed by fritters to which the baker has forgotten to add the apples. A little bit of juice laced into the dough is not enough, nor is a smattering of sauce lost among the folds of dough. But this fritter is filled with little apple bits providing crunch and endless little bursts of juicy apple freshness within a soft and fluffy crumb. If only it were endless.