FARM REDEFINING THE SACRED AT
Don’t call it farm-to-table. Don’t call it fine dining.
Just call it what it is – the restaurant, reimagined. BY BARRY KAUFMAN • PHOTOS BY ROB KAUFMAN
The first rule of FARM, the small restaurant with a massive reputation just off the bustling crossroads of Bluffton’s Promenade and Calhoun Streets, is “Nothing is Sacred.” And that driving credo is true, to some extent. The trio of passionate restaurateurs who willed FARM to life, Josh Heaton, Ryan Williamson and Chef 74
Brandon Carter, don’t seem to care how things “have always been done” or the way they are “supposed to be done.” Instead, they have forged their own way forward based on a deeply principled approach to what a restaurant should be. “One thing we all share is that we use the rules we’ve been taught, but if it doesn’t make sense we’re not doing it anymore,” said Chef Carter. That’s not to say that FARM approaches the standard restaurant experience with any kind of irreverence. It’s just that the usual rules don’t apply here. Menu items come and go with the seasons, dropping off as ingredients can no longer be harvested at their freshest. Rather than cut corners and serve something he can’t stand behind, Chef Carter will cut items entirely. Indeed, menu items themselves can change day by day as he tweaks and improves recipes. “If I can think of a way to make it better, why wouldn’t I? Because I didn’t serve it that way yesterday?” he said. “I don’t know that that really works for me.” It’s not the only way FARM doesn’t
quite fit the standard rules of a restaurant. One thing you’ll immediately notice when you walk into the restaurant is the unique seating configuration, with two areas of two-tops framing a wide farm table. It might seem odd to offer seating for 12 at one table in a 45-top restaurant, until you realize the farm table isn’t for parties of 12. It’s a way to bring people together over their common love of food. “We’ll sit a four, a four and a two smack dab in the middle,” said Heaton. “I see people walk in and they’re uncomfortable with that…But invariably, they sit down and see what their neighbors are eating and they open up. There’s a spirit of community where people come together over food.” The openness of the dining room, and the adventurous nature of the menu, does lend itself to an interesting sense of a shared experience. It’s not uncommon to dine at FARM and find yourself in conversation with adjoining tables about your respective dinners – especially during lunch, with the way the classic Southern meat and three tends to create endless variations on already stellar fare.