Sunday, August 11

The Farmers Union - San Jose

The Farmers Union is one of the many bars opening in downtown San Jose this summer. They have prime real estate right off Santa Clara Street on the corner right before you enter San Pedro Square. This allows them to have a huge front window which the chicas and I took full advantage of so we could people watch and/or people could watch us. Rawr!

The space is really clean and large with high ceilings and a bar area right in the middle. There is also seating upstairs too. Basically, it's got elbow room which is nice. They claim a "gastro pub meets sports bar vibe." I think it just looks like a sports bar. As the name suggests, The Farmers Union restaurant is in the Farmers Union Building which was owned by the Farmers Union Corporation. You can read more about the history here.

I'm sure you're all here to read about the food and drinks. Apologies for the camera phone pictures, came straight from the office and left without the DSLR.

Top Left: ($12) Cucumber Basil Press - Gin, basil leaves, agave nectar. Meh, tastes just like any other drink of the gin-basil-cucumber variety. I've already had one too many of these kind of drinks.
Top Right: ($9) The Salty Dog - Vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, salted rim. This one was really good thanks in large part to the fresh grapefruit juice.
Bottom: ($11) The Peralta - Tequila, Triple Sec, jalapeno, lemon juice, orange juice, club soda. This tastes like orange juice. I couldn't taste anything listed except the orange juice.

($10) Margherita flatbread - tomato, burrata, basil, olive oil - ahh I wanted so much to like this because I love margherita pizza but no, I just couldn't. It really bland.Tomato sauce and roasted garlic would be nice.

($11) Short rib sloppy joe sliders - brioche bun, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, crispy shallots. These were actually pretty good. There's nothing very "sloppy joe" about it but the short ribs were good. Definitely not worth the price though, you're only $3-$4 away from a full burger at a better place and even a full burger at Farmers Union. Their Union Burger is $14 and here you are paying $11 for 3 mini and unfulling ones.

($15) Charcoal grilled bangers and mash - house made sausage, mashed yukon gold, balsamic roasted onion demi glaze. This dish was pretty good too. The sausages were the star, as they should be. All else was tasty as well.

($6) Mac and cheese side - Nice presentation but this was very runny. Too much milk.

This is almost $74 worth of food and drinks.

How a restaurant prices its dishes should be a signal of quality and taste, portion size, caliber of the chef, or of the location. A restaurant at Santana Row can charge much more than this for food that is just decent because its location signals an upscale environment. As you recall, the food at Cafe Stritch was similarly unremarkable but their prices are significantly cheaper. As a consumer, I shifted my expectations accordingly and overall liked my meals there.

I'm not sure Farmers Union can pull off these prices. The food surely doesn't justify it. Nothing was terrible but nothing was memorable. The cocktails were good enough and I should probably try the beers to get the full feel of the gastropub vibe. Luckily, the service was very good. Farmers Union has great potential that they underutilized. They have a good story and roots within San Jose history, a great space with plenty of room, and location location location. I would like to see a more complex level of culinary skill in their dishes. If I can easily make it at home, I am less inclined to pay for it.

The Farmers Union on Urbanspoon

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