Our first visit to Farm & Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill, NJ was shortly after it opened in November of 2013 when we met with family there for an early dinner on a Saturday afternoon. We were a group of 10 hungry people, including 2 young children, and we were hoping that we could have some shared plates, find something for the kids to eat, drink some good local beers, and peruse an excellent wine and cocktail list. Oh and we needed a few vegan options as well! Sounds like a tall order, right? I have to admit that I was skeptical that we’d find everything that we were looking for. Restaurants that offer true communal style eating where things are meant to be shared, and where you can order large plates for the table, are a rare find in South Jersey. Farm & Fisherman did not disappoint us on that day, or on many days to come as it quickly turned into one of our go-to spots.
The offerings at Farm & Fisherman reflect the seasons, and many of the ingredients that go into the food and desserts, as well as the cocktails, are locally sourced, creating continuity across the menus. 80% of the beers are local and almost all the wines are domestic, except for the 2 sparkling selections on the menu. The cocktail list is short, but innovative, featuring modern variations of classic cocktails, a few barrel-aged options, as well as 2 of the classics themselves: a Barclay Bee’s Knees and an Erlton Manhatten. The Appletini contains Stateside vodka, and the Pine Barrens uses Rowhouse gin, both spirits that are distilled right here in Philadelphia, and there are future plans to bring in a local whiskey as well. In addition to many of the drink ingredients being locally sourced (like the cranberry jam in the Pine Barrens cocktail), many of the bitters and syrups are made right in house. There is also a house-made tonic, which I had the opportunity to taste and it’s excellent. The fact that these components are house-made allows Farm & Fisherman to expand the boundaries of each cocktail just a bit, while keeping other parts of it very familiar. A cocktail can be made the same way a hundred times, but the addition of an in house simple syrup will introduce nuances of flavor and create depth that wasn’t there before. On the night that I stopped in I sat at the bar so I had the opportunity to watch the bartenders, Meredith and Marilyn, as they prepared drinks. They both took great care in making their cocktails, measuring everything precisely. When I questioned the restaurant’s general manager, Ben Menk, about this level of precision, he said it guaranteed consistency from drink to drink, and developed an understanding of the importance of each ingredient. Music to my ears!
As I said earlier the food menu items are meant to be shared. There are snacks, appetizers, and “For the Table” selections like the Cheese and Charcuterie Plates and the Breads and Spreads that are just amazing. There’s also a great selection of entrées, salads, and sandwiches, many of which are gluten free or vegan. The desserts are also made with seasonal components, so that the berries in a cocktail are quite often the same berries you’ll find in the daily pie. There’s that continuity again. The wait staff is well-informed and courteous, the hostesses warm and friendly. All this is in a space that is both industrial cool and reclaimed wood warm, accentutated by comfortable seating and tables that can easily accommodate 2 or 10. Once you’ve visited Farm & Fisherman there’s no doubt that you’ll be back a second time, and before you know it it’ll become one of your go-to places too.
The cocktail pictured above is the Pine Barrens, made with Rowhouse gin, cranberry jam, house-made aromatic bitters, garnished with a fresh pine sprig and a Luxardo cranberry. It was both refreshing and warm and spicy at the same time. Perfect for the season!
Farm & Fisherman Tavern 1442 Marlton Pike East Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 856-356-2282