Philadelphia was recently right in the throws of January, which meant that it was time for Center City Restaurant Week. Even though I have my doubts about how much one really saves during this busy time and I know that most restaurants don’t function up to their normal standards, the college student in me jumps at the chance to spend $35 on a multi-course meal. One of the places I checked out was FARMiCiA. I’ve had dinner here before, but since my usual partner-in-crime is a vegan, it’s really our only option when we want to go out for this deal. While I liked the food here the first time I came, I had bad experiences with my waiter and my drinks. The waitstaff was inattentive and a bit rude, and what really made me cringe was the nasty cocktail I was served. Although I am a gin girl, when I ordered my drink, I wasn’t expecting a few shots of gin in a glass. I would have ordered a Martini if I had wanted that. With these things in mind, I was a bit hesitant to go again, but I decided to suck it up and give it another shot…this time with my own bottle of wine since the restaurant has a bar and a BYOB option.
As I walked into FARMiCia the second time, I took a few seconds to really look around the space. Nothing about the restaurant’s atmosphere is really striking, and except for the unique Granny Smith apples that are used for centerpieces, it is all a bit forgettable. It’s a shame that forgettable characterized much of the food I tried here as well. The Capellini and Sautéed Tofu that came with tomatoes, red chili, and mint didn’t have any flavor to it. I’m definitely not turned off by vegan food, but this dish needed something to sass it up. I think the mark of a good vegan dish is that it manages to wow you so much that you don’t even realize it’s vegan, but this dish capitalized on every bad thing that people claim about vegan food. It was bland, boring, and made you ache for something more.
In addition to the capellini, I also tried the Crabmeat and Asian Pear Salad. The salad as a whole was just okay. I actually really enjoyed the smooth, creamed avocado that came with it, but the Maryland girl in me wanted more crabmeat and fewer pears to top the greens, especially since the pears did not taste like they were in season. I wish I had gone with the French Lentil Salad, which I was previously impressed with here. After the salad, my meal picked up a bit with the Yellow Fin Tuna. This tuna came out perfectly cooked, and the powerful fish was taken to another level with the addition of the tarragon-caper aioli. However, the potatoes lacked seasoning and added nothing but extra calories to the dish. Unlike my first time at FARMiCiA, where I left stuffed and wanting more, when I was finished my entree this time, I was just ready to go home and eat a burger.
Although I wasn’t all that happy with my meal, I was anxiously waiting for dessert, the Bittersweet Chocolate Torte. Now, I love dessert. I think sweet things make the world go round, and while I love my meat, I would never get over the loss of dessert. I am a firm believer in the fact that there is a second stomach people have just for this special part of a meal. While all of the above statements hold true for me, I could have done without this sweet ending. The chocolate torte came with chocolate ice cream and chocolate fudge, which all seemed a bit redundant to me. It was chocolate on top of chocolate with nothing to undercut that flavor. If the torte had vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate or a few grains of coarse sea salt on it, this dessert could have been helped. As it is, this was one of the most disappointing desserts I’ve had in a long time, especially after the phenomenal one I recently had a Zahav. My meal at FARMiCiA began in a lackluster way and I ended up being even more disappointed than when I began. I gave this spot a second chance over my mixed first visit, but it was even more disappointing this round. While I think FARMiCiA’s commitment to local food is admirable, this is definitely one restaurant that I suggest skipping next time you’re out in Old City. There are more solid options around for sure.