Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tessa Farm to Fork

How do I love thee, Tessa Farm to Fork? Let me count the ways. This place is less than a mile from my house and one of my new favorite restaurants in Greensboro. Tessa specializes in seasonal menus featuring locally sourced ingredients. Prices are reasonable, the space is bright and quaint, it's simple yet elegant. Service is great, and you can tell management knows what they're doing. I am so excited for them to be entering in their 8th month and can't wait to taste more from them.

Menus change fairly frequently, so I'll recap some of what I've sampled over the past month. At lunch, the Hickory Nut Gap Pulled Pork Sandwich piles a huge mound of savory pulled pork onto a brioche bun, where one side is slathered with whole grain mustard, and one side is spread with tangy blackberry jam. I adore the sweet and savory flavor combo this creates. Finally, a place that understands my condiment obsession! Sides are exciting, ranging from Broccoli and Bacon Salad to Curried Zucchini and Onions.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos
The Candied Beet Salad does honor to the vegetable, adding pickled onion, Thai basil and cashews for an Asian flare. When you add grilled shrimp, you get 7, and they have a nice charred flavor. The Seasonal Berry Salad combines plump blackberries and blueberries with almond chevre cheese and pork belly batons - a chewy and smoky "crouton". Tessa's housemade dressings are a nice change from your standard restaurant options. Orange, Carrot & Ginger or Cilantro & Sundrop anyone? Kudos to the chefs for thinking up such fun combos!

At dinner, Shrimp Tacos can be tempura or grilled (I prefer the latter) and chipotle greens (I'm thinking swiss chard) and a citrus aioli fill the corn tortilla. The greens could have been cooked a little longer, but who am I kidding? I'm a shredded iceberg lettuce on a taco kind of gal, and these are definitely more upscale. The Lemongrass and Purple Garlic Braised Beef is really just a tender beef brisket. Lots of savory flavor, but I missed the earthiness and umami from the promised ingredients. The cilantro, pickled onions, peanuts and butternut squash fries definitely made this dish exciting though!

Beef Brisket 
Brunch is killer, most notably the specials. I'm talking a Fried Oyster Benedict with 6 crispy oysters on a soft, buttery biscuit, topped with fried eggs and pico de gallo. This is one of the best brunch items I have ever had. I appreciated the biscuit over an english muffin, and fried oysters > Canadian bacon any day. Most entrees are served with roasted potatoes, like fried potato cubes, sprinkled with sea salt, and a housemade molasses-ey ketchup. Scrumptious.

Weekday breakfast begins at 7:30am, Tuesday - Friday. I order Huevos Rancheros whenever it's an option, and Tessa's rendition is excellent: housemade chorizo, pico de gallo, refried black beans, queso fresco and sunny side up eggs between a crisp tostada? This is my heaven. Pancakes are thin and not too sweet, so you don't feel guilty having 1 or 2. You even get complimentary seasonal mini muffins. This is the best place to start your day.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake
The pastry chef at Tessa slays desserts. Caramel Banana Cake is a pound cake studded with walnuts, and glazed with a light caramel sauce. The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with cream cheese frosting is adorned with a brown butter, salted shortbread cookie. It's insanely good. Check out the chalkboard for rotating options.

Beauty in simplicity and local, is what Tessa does best. I strongly suggest you check it out as quickly as possible.

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