Restaurant Review: Alqueria Farmhouse Kitchen
Alqueria Farmhouse Kitchen has landed on King Avenue. The curious term, “Alqueria” dates back to a 15th century reference to a small rural community. To that end, Alqueria entered the scene with an agricultural angle that welcomes guests inside with an array of aesthetically pleasing farm implements, installed as art, on the wall near the entrance. The place is rustic in the fancy, refined way, as one might expect from a chef-ownership team with roots back at German Village’s Barcelona.
There are different ways to start out a dining experience at Alqueria. There’s a robust Cheeses & Cured Meats section on the menu, that allows diners to explore various combinations that involve speck or chorizo or manchego.
Alternately, there are classical starter options, and starting off with Pork Rinds ($7), with an artful drizzle of a honey hot sauce, is a nice way to begin. As executed at Alqueria, the rinds are a big and light, like an impossibly crispy foam made of mammal. Worth appreciating in and of itself, the dish pairs well with its companion smoky pimento cheese. The cheese adds a heavy richness and contrast that makes the thoughtful country combo sublime.
Alternately, on the vegetable side, you could start with Brussels Sprouts ($11). Comparatively pricy, they’re nicely accented with a generous supply of blue cheese, “apricot gastrique,” and a funky, aggressive crunch from corn nuts and almonds.
Over in entree-land, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($20) seems like a reasonable item to explore at a farmhouse-styled institution. If ever there were an ultimate farm classic, fried chicken would be it. Juicy pieces, wrapped in a barely-there crackling sweater, are served with uncommonly creamy mashed (pureed) potatoes that have been richly enhanced in with marscapone cheese. Some charming “charred” carrots, little skinny ones, and a sweet, peppery honey sauce round things out.
There are plant-based options on the entree menu as well. Case in point: Farro Vegetables ($18). Farro is a plump grain, plumper than the more ubiquitous rice or quinoa. The kitchen mixes it with lots of mushrooms, squash cubes, parsnips, and bits of roasted brussels sprouts that impart some of their roasted flavor throughout the mix underneath a modest cover of manchego cheese. The Farro dish ends up being on the one-note side, so while the flavor is appealing, it lacks the variety that’s so interesting in the other offerings.
The kitchen’s good work is supported by a serving team that’s armed with the confidence and warmth of people who have things all together. There’s also a full bar, with wines and creative takes on cocktails, dosed with some interesting lessons in history added to the mix. There’s a couple nods to Harry McElrohn, a famed NYC bar owner who rose to prominence in the 1920s, such as the Worldly Lady, made with beefeater gin, lemoncello, Montenegro amaro, egg white and orange.
You’ll find Alqueria at 247 King Ave. It’s open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday; dinner only on Saturdays, and for now, it’s closed on Sundays. But the buzz says that a brunch is in the works.
For more information, visit alqueriacolumbus.com.