I had been looking forward to visiting Serenbe for months. The idea of this sustainable community with great architecture and farm to table dining is the perfect way for a chef (me) and an architect (him) to spend the day. The skies opened up and dumped buckets of torrential rain on us during our nearly hour and a half long drive, but thanfully once we arrived at beautiful Serenbe the skies cleared up nicely. I made a 6:15 dinner reservation at The Farmhouse at Serenbe but we arrived at about 4:30 that afternoon so we could take a walking tour of the village.
We drove past the Inn and the Farmhouse restaurant and parked near the more densely built village with shops. I’m so jealous of this walkable community, I’d love to walk from my home to a gallery or coffee shop to meet friends. Density has its benefits.
I could stroll through these streets for hours looking at the beautiful front gardens at Serenbe. The mature, slightly overgrown greenery keeps the walkways shaded making a cool, pleasant journey. The kids wanted to explore the trails that wound through the community so we descended a stairway behind a courtyard. It was BEAUTIFUL…and humid, I was
sweat glistening like a rose covered in morning dew when we climbed the stairs out of the trails.
We stopped in at the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop during our stroll. The kids each got brownies and my husband got a cinnamon roll. I didn’t get anything because I knew I was going to order dessert after dinner. There were no raves about the treats, so I didn’t feel bad for skipping them. I purchased a jar of muscadine preserves to bring home from Blue Eyed Daisy, I’m looking forward to tasting it on some biscuits, maybe with a little country ham.
And now finally to dinner at The Farmhouse. After our little hike I was SO ready to relax with bottomless mimosas (YES, that’s right, I said bottomless) and munch on some fried chicken. Fried chicken that none other than Martha herself claims is “The Best”, high praise indeed.
The restaurant is BEAUTIFUL, not overdone, not kitschy just lovely. Like the rest of Serenbe we just felt so good being there.
Dinner looks good. The chicken is golden and plump, the collard slaw looks bright and fresh. The beans are whole which is a good sign that they are not overcooked. The spoonbread looks fluffy and inviting, not weepy or runny, all good signs for a wonderful meal. I was excited until I dug in. I really wanted to like it, but…
It wasn’t bad. That’s the best I can say about it. I cut into the chicken to take a bite expecting a bit of crunch from the light coating, but there was nothing. I expected the chicken to have the deep rich flavor of a family farm raised chicken ( check my Chicken Challenge post on family farm vs factory farm raised chicken here http://wp.me/p2eCV7-71 ) that got to peck and scratch in an open pasture, ( I mean, we ARE dining in the Farmhouse, after all) but there was none. I hoped for some seasoning, some herbs, SOMETHING…there was salt and only salt, not too much, but just salt. The chicken was moist, and that was good, especially for a boneless chicken breast. This meal made me sad. It wasn’t bad, it was just sad.
While the kids and I all had the fried chicken, my husband ordered the country fried steak so I got to taste that as well. It was tender and slightly more flavorful than the chicken…I think they added a bit of black pepper to this. Again there was no crunch from the coating, just a bit more of it. A cheese souffle was offered as the vegetarian entree, but none of our family chose it for dinner.
The sides did not help much. The collard slaw was the best of them, fresh and tender collard greens with julienne carrots and an insignificant dressing. The spoonbread was bland and the bean salad was, well… bland. Again, nothing was offensive , nothing tasted bad it was just bland, boring and yes, sad. These three sides were the only ones offered on the streamlined menu.
We ordered two strawberry cobblers for dessert, the kids shared one and my husband and I shared one. Each came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. The “cobbler” consisted of a dense, gummy sweet dough on the bottom, cooked sweet strawberries on top of that (sad) dough and then the vanilla ice cream on top. No crispness at all to the crust and some cooked strawberries, it’s like they didn’t even try.
Dinner was a bit of a let down after a beautiful day. If we return to Serenbe it will be on a Saturday so we can enjoy the farmers market, art galleries and other shops. We’ll bring a picnic lunch.