The Sampler at
The Farmhouse Cafe
and Tea Room
Sometimes, at an opera, just after the curtain has gone up and just before the action begins, the audience breaks out into applause for the stage setting.
In the world of professional dining, of course, one must learn to set aside and overlook the craft of setting the stage in order to better understand the underlying efforts in the presentation of good restaurant meals.
Still, in dining, as in all things, everything is in the set and setting.
And, naturally, in dining, as in all things, one’s senses enjoy being delighted.
That is why a meal at the Flower and Herb Barn will be more than just another delightful dinner; it will be a complete experience where every sense is stimulated and attention to every detail serves to enhance the gustatory experience.
The journey to the Flower and Herb Barn at 5171 Upper Bean Blossom Road is colorful and interesting regardless of the route one might choose. From Nashville, go to Bean Blossom and turn right at the main intersection across from the McDonald’s Shopworth store onto Gatesville Road. At Fox’s Corner, a “Y” in the road, bear left toward Sprunica and Spearsville onto Upper Bean Blossom Road.
While we waited for the crowd to thin out, we took advantage of the wonderful setting. The Farmhouse Café and Tea Room is located in an old brick and wooden farmhouse adjacent to the nursery and landscaping company. Along shaded paths, neatly organized beds of herbs, shrubs, trees, perennials, and unusual plants abound. In an oversized potting shed-like structure, garden art, pots, birdhouses, and antiques compete for space.
Flowers were blooming, getting ready to bloom, or had just finished blooming all around us. We discovered a small green pond with a tiny isthmus on which stands a huge, spreading weeping willow tree.
The Farmhouse itself makes a pretty picture for an afternoon meal. There is a little brick-walled courtyard with an overhanging lattice arbor, a little burbling water fountain, with wire framed table with colorful ceramic tile mosaics and potted plants.
Down one side of the old building, shaded by overhanging trees, is a long porch with more tables. In the shade with relative privacy, but, best of all— inside—is the main dining room of the farmhouse itself.
The style is something like an homage to the country farmhouse; sort of Provence meets Brown County. The tables and chairs are all mismatched wooden antiques of many various vintages, pedigrees and states of repair. Each table is covered with a flowery, old fashioned cloth.
Around the walls are several rough, country style dish cupboards, pie safes, and side boards, distressed by age and the paint that marks them as antiques—milk white and arsenic green.
It somehow evokes the south of France without betraying its Brown County roots. All it wants is an Edith Pilaf record in place of the Boomer-friendly radio station.
And that is the moment when set and setting are complete, appropriate, inviting.
The menu does not disappoint, with a light and deftly executed fare.
For a quick, light treat, it’s hard to beat the fruit salad drizzled with a delicious light and creamy yogurt topping, or the mixed melon salad with honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe balls served with raspberries or strawberries and a scoop of lime sherbet ice cream.
The salad menu is abundant, unusual, and completely delicious. There’s an avocado and smoked fish salad, a chicken papaya salad with honey-lemon balm dressing, or an asparagus and orange salad that’s as healthy as it is unusual (fresh asparagus, ripe, juicy orange slices, heirloom tomato, crispy greens, and a light herbal vinaigrette dressing).
The Herb Barn Salad is more than just a “house salad.” It’s a delectable assortment of fresh red and gold bell pepper slices, baby green beans, black olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and sliced egg with a special herb dressing.
My Bride had the curried chicken salad with garlic, cilantro, and yogurt on a bed of Penne with steamed green beans and tomato slices—“Ummm, good!”
I grazed over to the sandwich section, where the lighter fare mingled with some more traditional selections.
There’s honey-baked ham; roasted turkey on a choice of homemade breads; chicken salad with rosemary and dill herbal accents; or “Brown County’s Best BLT” with a special sun-dried tomato dressing.
I was also very tempted by the cucumber, red onion, and sweet pepper sandwich with an herbal cream cheese spread.
But, in the end, I chose the “Garden Lovers Vegetarian Sandwich” with avocado tomato, onion, and alfalfa sprouts seasoned with a Dijon and mayo spread and topped with melted cheese.
It was simply wonderful.
For an authentic folk detail you cannot excel the iced sassafras tea, with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint. It is just one of a plethora of “cool-down drinks” including chilled fruit mix fizz, mango mint cooler, and Herb Barn lemonade.
There are also fruit/ice cream smoothies.
For dessert, there’s cheese cake with fresh fruit, ice creams, sherbets, and a “Fresh Fruit Ambrosia.”
Take a journey in the country and allow all of your sense to be stimulated—especially, your senses of sight, smell and taste—and be profoundly satisfied.