Being pretentious is not normally something you can do lightly or in a reserved manner so when I ate lunch at the Urban Farmhouse in Shockoe Slip today it didn’t take very long for me to figure out what this place is all about. While the location and people in the resturant are both beautiful, some basic aspects of the culinary experience are severely lacking. This is a place who’s hours of operation I am not familiar with but would wager to guess rarely extend beyond 6pm and as such you would think would cater to the downtown lunch crowd. I was surprised then to have a half hour wait for a grilled cheese sandwich ($7) when I had ordered with almost no one in line ahead of me. Apparently the farmhouse name is appropriate as I am pretty sure they actually milked the cow in the back and made the cheese themselves before actually preparing my sandwich. What was really irritating though were the “chefs” in the open cafe kitchen simply sitting there holding the griddle together (a feat also accomplished by gravity) while orders failed to come out. As a bike destination the location is good but not great although the vintage Trek in the street scene was spotted in front of the resturant which is the real reason I decided to have lunch there. The shelves were lined with the usual overpriced organic products that you should probably be shopping at the grocery store for rather than a lunch cafe and the selection wasn’t anything that couldn’t be had at other locations in town although I’m sure you would have to search far and wide for another location to wait as long to get answers on the products you were buying. The three pieces of artwork hanging on the walls were attractive still life paintings but nothing ground breaking although that’s not a critisism, merely an observation as it is simply a cafe after all.
For the number of staff, prices, limited seating, and supposed qualiity of the ingredients the total experience was below lame and straddling stab me in the face level. Cafe implies quick, tasty, lite but not overly small, and appealing to the senses. While it was certainly appealing visually and the smells were wonderful it’s simply a waste that the food wasn’t more reasonable price wise and length of wait wise. A little less in the way of ambiance and a little more in the way of service and this cafe could be a great lunch option. Until then save your money and time for a better use.