Upping the steaks at Urban Farmer

Upping the steaks at Urban Farmer
Caroline Russock

When the Four Seasons hotel shut its doors a little over a year ago, it took a not-so-little piece of Philadelphia dining history with it. For more than 30 years, the Fountain restaurant was the place to see and be seen, with a steady stream of politicians, socialites and all-around famous Philadelphians flocking in for everything from weekday power breakfasts to late-night martinis.

Turned around in record time, the hotel is now the Logan, a sleek new addition to the Hilton family’s boutique-y Curio Collection, and the Fountain has been transformed into the Urban Farmer, a forward-thinking steakhouse concept from a Portland, Oregon–based restaurant group.

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This area of the city is certainly not lacking when it comes to steakhouse selection, but Urban Farmer’s goal is to offer a fresh take on the winning formula. Shaking off the staid surroundings of the Fountain, the dining room has been outfitted with an open kitchen, an expansive bar and a blend of flea market–sourced art, pickle jar–lined walls, and bright splashes of neon.

Pre-dinner drinks

Decor aside, the first tip-off that Urban Farmer isn’t stuffy comes when you crack open the cocktail menu. The sizable list of craft concoctions features house specials like Farmer #4, a bracing blend of vodka, elderflower liqueur and lime juice over a cube of frozen hopped grapefruit juice designed to keep the drink from watering down. The obligatory martini — this is still a steakhouse, after all —comes with a mini Mason jar cradling a pickled onion, a Cerignola olive and a twist of lemon zest to garnish your drink as you see fit.

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As you inbibe, a roving cheesemonger might make his way over to your table offering to slice off chunks of Shropshire Blue from his well-stocked cart. Or opt for house-cured charcuterie, a seafood plateau or even caviar service.

For the main course

With porterhouses, tenderloins, flatirons and ribeyes on the menu, its Urban Farmer’s transparent approach to sourcing that sets it apart. Each cut is annotated not only by number of ounces in a portion, but also by the farm name, state of origin and a note indicating whether this particular animal was raised on a corn or grain diet. Those in search of the best of both (or really, all three) worlds can opt for a New York steak tasting that sits grass fed, prime and dry aged beef side by side for comparison.

A la carte sides like locally foraged mushrooms, stellar creamed spinach, and grits topped with a poached egg and parmesan from nearby Castle Valley are served as sharable portion in steaming Staub cast-irons.

After the meal

The desserts are serious after-dinner contenders, but if you’d prefer to end your meal with something sippable, Urban Farmer has all of the bases covered with pages of scotches, cognacs and armagnacs, as well as trio of stomach-settling amaros to round out the evening.