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Farmhouse Brings Farm-to-Tavern Eats to Evanston

The Michelin-rated restaurant is opening a second location at 703 Church Street this spring, offering 36 craft beers on tap and Midwestern cuisine sourced from local farms.

Grass-fed beef, farm-to-table cooking and local brews are coming to the restaurant space at 703 Church Street this spring, when downtown Chicago-based Farmhouse opens a second location.

Farmhouse co-owners Ferdia Doherty and TJ Callahan say they’re hoping for an early May opening at the 5,500-square-foot space in the Hilton Orrington building that formerly housed the sushi restaurant Futami.

With a focus on ingredients sourced from local farms, Doherty says Farmhouse will offer something unusual within the diverse Evanston restaurant scene.

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“Everything we do is as locally sourced as possible,” Doherty says. “So what we bring to the table—no pun intended—is a little bit different than what’s on the market.” 

Doherty and Callahan opened the downtown Chicago location in September 2011, which has since earned a Michelin rating for its “farm-to-tavern” cuisine. Executive Chef Eric Mansavage will help get the Evanston location up and running, where a bigger kitchen will allow some more creative additions to the menu. 

“We’re hoping that we will be making our own cheese, jarring, and doing a lot of things like that,” Doherty says. 

Mansavage’s menu changes with the seasons, featuring Midwestern fare such as grass-fed Illinois steak, Indiana duck breast schnitzel and Lake Superior whitefish as well as beer-batter fried Wisconsin cheese curds. Ingredients are sourced from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, according to Doherty, while the craft beers on tap are all from the Midwest. 

“Our goal is to bring as much localness as possible to the tavern, be that beer, be it burgers, be it lamb, or be it whiskey or gin,” he says.

Given the proximity to Few Spirits in Evanston, Doherty says the restaurant hopes to offer a Few cocktail special once it opens, and perhaps even Virtue apple cider from Michigan aged in Few gin barrels—“That will be something we’re looking at, but no promises,” he adds. Along with a cocktail menu and 36 craft beers on tap, the Evanston location will also have Illinois or Michigan wines on tap and house-made sodas.

With 160 seats on two stories and 60 seats outside, the space at 703 Church Street is much larger than Farmhouse’s downtown Chicago location, which seats just 89, according to Doherty. He and Callahan are just getting the renovation process started, but plan to decorate the space with reclaimed materials from old barns and other buildings, as they did with Farmhouse in Chicago. 

“About 80 to 85 percent [of the construction materials] in Chicago were reclaimed from an old factory on the south side or came from some old bars,” Doherty says. “Our goal is to do the same.” 

The location at 703 Church Street has been vacant for more than a year, since Futami Sushi shut down, and has entrances to the street and into the Hilton Orrington. After such a long vacancy, seeing a restaurant finally move in is particularly good news, says Randy Pluta, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Orrington.

“It’s a great restaurant. Several of us have been there,” he says. “I think it will be good not only for the hotel but for Evanston.”  

Doherty says he expects to hire 60 to 70 people at the Evanston location, and will begin renovations within the next two weeks. The restaurant is also still in the process of obtaining a liquor license from the city.

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