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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

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In Dining Reviews

Most diners start at the bar, where the air is permeated by the freshly grilled menu offerings. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

Farmstead offers house specials of garlic smashed black Angus, homemade soups, steak and fish selections of the day and twists on the old and ordinary. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

Simple, straightforward food and unique dining atmosphere are a popular and welcomed combination in Cedarburg. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

The Farmstead, rustic and refined, is worth visiting


I don't visit Cedarburg very often. When I do, it's usually at the behest of my father-in-law, who lives in Brown Deer and has a penchant for good food and great atmosphere.

Therefore, I wasn't remotely surprised when he recommended The Farmstead, W62 N238 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, and it became one of my favorite scouting visits in a long time.

Housed in a charmingly rustic yet refined antique farmhouse, the Farmstead offers house specials of garlic smashed black Angus, homemade soups, steak and fish selections of the day and twists on the old and ordinary that sometimes create extraordinary dishes.

Steaks, fish, ribs and chicken are cooked behind the bar over a matchbox-sized open grill for all to see and smell while waiting for a table. A moderately priced but well appointed wine list, generous portion sizes and prompt, attentive service have made the restaurant a community favorite.

Décor here features everything from old printed flour sacks placed strategically overhead to farm-themed artwork and historic Milwaukee pieces. The atmosphere dabbles in both fun and carefree as well as the casual, romantic evening out. Most diners start at the bar, where the air is permeated by the freshly grilled menu offerings, and make a post-drink transition into the open dining area, abuzz with other diners.

The nightly specials board proved popular during our visit, as the house offering of butternut squash soup was quickly sold out by 8 p.m.. And, in addition to a server flawlessly reciting the daily specials, the restaurant posts them on a chalkboard with prices, for all to see.

The Farmstead's menu includes basic appetizers like nachos (served with chicken or barbecued pork), and chicken tenders, but they also serve a signature dish of tenderloin bites; tiny, medium rare tenderloin tips served on a ½ inch thick crostini and topped with a large, homemade pickle slice.

Steaks, too, are offered on the menu in traditional preparations ($19-$28) or are dressed up on the specials board with the addition of crab meat, béarnaise sauce and asparagus for a steak Oscar type preparation (here, called the Binkelman-$33.95). In addition to other daily offerings, the Farmstead also features a fish special, which on our visit was a wahoo ($23.95) served with fruit salsa.

All entrees come with choice of soup or salad (French onion soup is an additional $1), a generous portion of sugar snap peas tossed with mushrooms slices, and choice of potato (baked, homemade fries, chips or garlic mashed) or wild rice. Pricing is reasonable given the portion sizes and quality of meats; a 6-oz. tenderloin including soup and sides will run you just a penny shy of $20.

The Farmstead offers rotating dessert options, which during our visit included carrot cake, banana cake with chocolate frosting and key lime pie. The restaurant also offers a bustling lunch menu with salad and sandwich options that usually keep the dining room full, confirming that simple, straightforward food and unique dining atmosphere are a popular and welcomed combination in Cedarburg.


Talkbacks

syrinxroxx1 | Jan. 12, 2011 at 8:50 a.m. (report)

I love the Farmstead as well. I'm lucky enough to live in walking distance. I've lived in 6 states and dined in many amazing places and this is still one of my all time favs. Farm Bites are the single best app I've ever had except for possibly the shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo's in Indy. I have tried to make them at home and can't find the magic. The wait in the crowded bar is a bit annoying but well worth it. In the summer the back deck is open and much better place to chill with a strong cocktail and FB's.

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maya | Jan. 13, 2009 at 1:33 p.m. (report)

I have had steak all over the country, and the Farmstead is still my favorite. Costs a lot less than most steakhouses, too. The staff is a hoot, which makes waiting for a table fun. A real class act in a comfortable setting. A+.

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AcesFull711 | Jan. 12, 2009 at 11:41 a.m. (report)

One of my favorite spots - I've tried many times to replicate their signature smashed garlic glaze and can't get it right. It's frustrating but alas just an excuse to get up to Cedarburg to enjoy!

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