Farm Collective

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The Farm Collective is such a worthy cafe that you almost want to hate it. The vision of the “founders” is that of a cafe focused on UK produce which is sourced by Farm Collective and is all traceable. If the use of the term “founders” rather than “owners” or even “managers” makes you want to gag on your soy skinny latte there is more trouble in store for you as you will learn that the food is preservative free, made fresh in-house each day and 10% of profits are donated to charity. Selecting a bite for breakfast or lunch is a labour intensive task as each label painstakingly lists the provenance of almost every ingredient so that a ham and cheese croissant is described as a “Flourish Croissant loaded with Dorset Ham and Keens Cheddar”.
 

Salmon Fishcakes

The problem is that as much as I do want to sneer at the earnestness of the whole enterprise I do like knowing where my food comes from. What’s more the food at the Farm Collective is actually flavoursome and offers a welcome respite from the standard sandwich bars. The Farm Collective is more of a takeaway than an eat in sort of place with only a small selection of wooden benches at the front and back of the tiny store. Still, they do provide generous jugs of tap water and even copies of the paper to make your dine in experience a little more enjoyable.

Display fridges contain pre-made salads and sandwiches or you can queue at the counter to order a limited selection of hot food. From the salad selection the Chunky Dorset and Westcombe Farm Ploughmans comes in a cardboard container filled with a few rolled slices of free range ham, slices of cheddar, a dollop of coleslaw, grapes, lettuce and slices of apple. The Ploughmans is served with some crusty bread and at £4 is a welcome change from standard salads.

The Chunky Dorset and Westcombe Farm Ploughmans

Salmon fishcakes at £4.50 for two are plucked from the pie warmer and served in another cardboard container together with a handful of fresh lettuce leaves which the friendly staff select from a large bowl in the middle of the counter. The fishcakes themselves are a bit of a disappointment as despite looking the business with a lovely golden bread crumbed exterior they err on the side of too dry. I suspect the time they have spent in the pie warmer may be to blame.

All this emphasis on provenance and rustic flavours comes at the higher end of the scale for the typical office lunch crowd. Ordering the pie and mash will set you back £6 before you even think about a drink or afternoon snack. That said, who can put a price on the smug feeling that you will enjoy as you munch on your freshly made, preservative free, charity friendly and proudly British lunch.

Details: 91 Cowcross Street, Smithfield EC1M 6BH (Ph 0207 253 2142)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
6/10
Farm Collective on Urbanspoon

5 comments

  1. That Ploughmans looks great and is a bargain at that price. Wish there was one more central, I get so bored of the salads offered by the places around Covent Garden

  2. I must admit I haven’t been entirely won over by this place (just around the corner from where I work). I’m totally into what they’re trying to achieve but the sandwiches are just far too small.

    I’m a greedy sod me *looks down in shame*

  3. I had one of their salads last week, seem to remember it contained bulgar wheat, cheese and roasted vegetables, wasn’t half bad at all. Sadly Ive now moved offices to the badlands of Kings Cross so its out of reach in a 1hr lunchbreak.

  4. Boo – I have a sad feeling that this one is going to roll out into some sort of chain (I hate chains) – as it is just too slick for one shop – so I am pretty sure there will be one near you soon…

    Food Urchin – we must work quite close to each other. I didn’t try the sandwiches so will have to investigate their size next time.

    Dan – Most importantly though how will you cope without the felafel man on whitecross street now that you have moved!

  5. I remember this place when it first opened (around the time this review was written). I don’t think I would ever have described it as a cheap eat, but it was good back then. Went there recently – not the same at all. Prices have gone up, quality gone down. A real disappointment these days. 🙁

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