Restaurant Review: Acre Farm-to-Table To-Go
Acre feels something like a start-up cousin to the Northstar Café. Both have counter service, both promote locally-grown sensibilities. Both have rice bowls on the menu.
But at Acre, the counter team wears plaid shirts, while the back of the house wears serious white chef gear (minus poofy hat). And Acre doesn’t have a double-digit beet burger on the menu.
It does serve, however, Kale Chips ($2.50). They are an excellent starting point for discussion. Pleasant by even the standards of nugget-eating little people (tested, universally approved) the chips are feathery light and briny, with just enough green flavor to maintain kale’s vegetable integrity.
The Sweet and Salty Popcorn ($2.50) is harder to love. The perfectly popped pieces have a barely-there, sugary honey coating that provides a likeable element, but the fragrant contributions of orange and lavender are so strong that the popcorn leaves a chemically burning sensation in the mouth. Even if the popcorn ingredients are all natural, the kale chips are a better bet.
Or move onwards to a bowl. The BBQ Bowl ($8.75) proves to be a plate-licker (or bowl-licker). The brown rice foundation makes for a nutty, clumpy base that hosts a mélange of nicely flavored pork (add an additional $2 for that), long cooked loops of peppers and onions and little cubes of sweet potatoes. Somehow, the flavors all merge together in a way that makes it hard to stop shoveling fork to mouth.
The house Bowls come in several flavor variations (such as Thai or Mole) with other addition options that include chicken and mushrooms. The same sorts of variations and additions are available for tacos, wraps and salads. In that sense, it’s working a DIY Chipotle angle too.
Like any DIY restaurant, part of a successful experience stems from responsible diner choices. Hence, the personal decision to opt for chicken in a Moo Shu Taco ($3) was perhaps not the best. Part of what makes traditional Moo Shu lovable is that all its components have a homogenous textures, cut into teeny shreds and whiskers. Since the house chicken comes in big chunks, the best part of Moo Shu is missing: mushrooms with Moo Shu next time.
The Ceasar Taco ($3) or Mole Taco ($3) are better choices. In the case of the former, little bits of tender, dressed kale make a soft, flavorful cushion for the chunks of chicken. In the case of the latter, the thick, hearty Mole makes for a nice, almost-traditional taco.
Meanwhile, the Taco Salad ($6.75) is to-die-for. Salads are almost never worthy of that sort of admiration, but this one is a top tenner on the personal salad list. The topping of long cooked peppers and onions takes on the robust features of a good ratatouille. And it mixes around a nest of soft spinach leaves with chunky salsa and avocado cream. It’s the best thing to happen to vegetables in a long time.
For an up-charge of $2 to $3, you can add a protein to that salad, but for another $6.75, you could order another salad and just binge on the whole sublime experience.
You can find Acre at 2700 N. High Street. It’s open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11am until 10pm.
For more information, visit www.acretogo.com.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.