Scottsdale party kingpins co-opt the healthy-eats movement. Is this where “farm-to-table” jumps the shark?

Farm & Craft

Written by Nikki Buchanan Category: Food Reviews Issue: December 2016
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Whether you’re an occassional vegan, a part-time Paleo proponent or simply a backsliding member of the I-Really-Should-Eat-Better Society, the premise behind Farm & Craft – a health-focused copycat of Sam Fox’s Flower Child, housed in the former Stingray Sushi space in Old Town Scottsdale – will probably appeal to you. We can all talk a good game about mindful eating.

It’s that same delusional attitude that Riot Hospitality Group – the party people who gave us El Hefe and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Old Town’s nightlife district – is betting on here. Without paying strict attention, we might be bamboozled by the modern farmhouse décor, the Williams-Sonoma vibe and the politically correct menu, strewn with words like “gluten-free,” “probiotic” and “immune system.” Nor might we notice, after our second fresh-pressed-juice-infused Wellness Martini, that the intent behind this slick operation is less than sincere.

Here’s the irony: There’s nothing about Farm & Craft’s bland, uninspired food that brings a farm to mind, although “farm-to-table” – plundered here for mix-and-match buzzword recognition – is clearly part of the messaging. So you’ll want to take the dining room’s giant mural of a farm field, hazily backlit by a golden sunrise, with a grain of fleur de sel. And ask yourself if the lettuce in your salad actually came from a local farmer who shook off the dew just this morning, as the restaurant’s website subtly suggests.

Sadly, there’s no craft either, not in a steak sandwich so hastily thrown together that half its ingredients are missing (we waited 30 minutes for a miniscule portion of grass-fed beef on grocery store-quality bread) or in thin slices of bone-dry chicken breast served over organic quinoa in the snoozy Cali Bowl. If I were a gambling woman, I’d wager the aforementioned bird was grilled and Cryovac-ed by some giant restaurant provider, leaving the kitchen with nothing to do but open the bag, warm the pre-cooked meat and put it on a plate. Mmm-mmm.

I can’t imagine ever coming back for the kale Caesar, adorned with two tiny nubbins of sundried tomato and a few barely discernible shavings of Brussels sprouts, all tossed in yogurt dressing for “health’s” sake. The wild mushroom flatbread, heaped with arugula to hide the fact that the mushrooms are almost nonexistent, is even worse, thanks to a flaxseed/whole wheat crust possessing all the flavor of a cereal box.

The least offensive dishes are also the cheapest: an $8 breakfast sandwich composed of nitrate-free bacon, egg, avocado and cheddar; and $4 side dishes of farro mac and cheese, sweet potato hash, roasted Brussels sprouts (accented with bacon, cranberry and walnut) and roasted broccolini with red chile flakes.

However, an inedible berry crumble with wine-poached pear and granola is so bad our server sees our faces and automatically takes it off the bill. And for Farm & Craft’s final feat of futility: The fresh-pressed juice drinks, like The Patrick (pineapple, cantaloupe, grapefruit, jalapeño, cilantro and lime), somehow don’t taste freshly made.

But why am I surprised? The brazen co-opting of the farm-to-table movement is a trend in its own right. Even Subway and First Watch show images of farms in their commercials these days. It’s enough to make you toss your gluten-free cookies.

Farm & Craft
Cuisine: New American
Contact: 4302 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale,
Hours: M-F 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sa-Su 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Highlights: Breakfast sandwich ($8); The Patrick ($7); sweet potato hash ($4); farro mac and cheese ($4)

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