by Tanya Henry
Trying to conjure up memories of the long-running Easy Street Café in San Anselmo’s Red Hill Shopping Center is now nearly impossible. Even after the short-lived Ross Valley Kitchen moved into the space at 882 Sir Francis Drake, the memory of a kid’s corner playhouse, friendly waitstaff and shabby dark carpet and tables still lingered. But now that the Southern-based Farm Burger has ridden into town and completely refurbished the 800-square-foot room in a modern barn-like motif, all vestiges of the longtime tenant are gone.
Barely two weeks old, the sixth outpost of this burger-focused restaurant chain that was founded by Jason Mann and George Frangos in Decatur, Georgia, has folks lining up for a seat at one of the two picnic tables, six-seat bar or the smattering of tables indoors and out.
With its carefully crafted brand, complete with three large images of grazing bovines, an orange and red cow logo, multiple blackboards and recycled wood everywhere, Farm Burger feels a bit concepted and gimmick-y. However, when it comes to the food—specifically the burgers and sweet potato fries, there is nothing disingenuous about them.
As expected, burgers are the stars here. At a price of $7.75, the choice of 100 percent grass-fed beef, chicken, pork or vegan is available and includes a handful of condiments. Additional items can be selected to “build” a custom version with such items as bacon, a fried farm egg, pork belly, Point Reyes blue cheese and more. The add-ons come at a charge of either $1 or $2 each.
Pic Walker, one of the local partners and San Rafael resident who has spent most of his career working on issues of sustainability, is thrilled to have the second West Coast outpost (the first is in Berkeley) right here in his backyard. “Part of the ethos here is to be as waste-free as possible,” he says.
I tried my first-ever chicken pot pie fritter that amazingly captured the inimitable flavor experience of that favorite Americana classic. A sherry date barbecue sauce accompanied the tasty nuggets, and for a moment I was transported to Grandma’s kitchen. The salads need more attention, though. A heavy tarragon-based dressing couldn’t elevate a seasonal market version.
Farm Burger has chosen its Marin locale wisely. Not only will kids flock to the rustic/modern burger joint, but adults will be equally enticed by the handful of reasonably priced wines by the glass and local beer offerings on tap and by the bottle.
Farm Burger, 882 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo; 415/785-4802.