The "eat local" movement made significant waves when we collectively remembered that our food came from somewhere, be it a garden, a pasture or an ocean. This quietly tenacious revolution continues, even in as nondescript a guise as a Sherwood Park strip mall. Indeed, Farm to Fork Eatery occupies humble quarters but endeavours to uphold its noble ambitions: to source the bulk of its menu's ingredients from Alberta.
Farm to Fork's main dining room (there is a banquet room and a bar across the hall) sport a grey and beige palette, muted to the point that the space could belong to any hotel or conference hall in Western Canada. A large aquaponics system, full of expressionless fish, commands attention from the middle of the room. Though intriguing – an explanation of this setup would have been welcome – the noisy filtration system drowns out any vestiges of light jazz still audible. Service is consistently sweet and prompt, though we are informed at the beginning that – lamentably – the kitchen is out of nearly 30 per cent of menu items today.
Farm to Fork's menu favours protein. Elk Slider Bites ($15) are a nuanced and flavourful choice, enhanced by a smattering of sweet corn relish. Thickly sliced kettle chips are a whimsical substitute for buns, but these crisps are far less adept at containing a meat patty. A timid wine list could be far more diverse. Therapy Freudian Sip ($12) hails from an especially sunny Okanagan valley. A generic Masi Modelo ($8), on the other hand, is budget-friendly but forgettable.
Farms Garden Salad ($15) cradles a kaleidoscope of greenery in a Mason jar, with a smattering of tomato and bell pepper for good measure. Slices of raw sunchoke, though a novel ingredient, are starchy and watery. Orchard Asparagus ($14) charms with straightforward flavour profiles. Here, a bundle of celadon spears share quarters with coins of wild boar pepperoni and translucent shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano; the summation is a balanced gustatory tug-of-war of salty and sweet. An explanation of where these ingredients were grown would have been welcome.
Entrees, again, are protein-skewed with half the roster belonging to various cuts of steak, plus a lone meat-free nod in the guise of asparagus and wild rice risotto. Roasted Chicken ($27) – it's an entire half-chicken – proves mellow, juicy and mild. Orange Wood Smoked Wild Boar Belly ($31), though laced with citrus and acrid smoke, is both saline and achingly unctuous. A handful of asparagus and yellow pepper is replicated verbatim for each dish. Sides are customizable but, if anything, this system begets inconsistency. Fingerling potatoes are a welcome clutch of toothsome tubers, but wild rice suffers from heavy-handed salt.
Farm to Fork Eatery possesses distinct potential, but this potential is hobbled. If, indeed, the majority of ingredients were grown in Western Canada, this must be better communicated to its audience in order for this restaurant's ambitious credo to be fulfilled.