As the northern edge of Raleigh shifts farther and farther up the map, Wake Forest no doubt feels like a dot in the path of an oncoming Pac-man.
The single plus to such encroachment is that there becomes enough people in the immediate area to attract varied entertainment and dining concepts.
One fairly new addition to the scene is Farm Table, which replaced Girasole Trattoria in Wake Forest's Gateway Commons shopping center earlier this summer. Farm Table is part of the Giorgios Group, which comprises local establishments such as Parizade, City Kitchen, Kipos, Bin Fifty-Four and Vin Rouge, among others. It joins the ubiquitous trend of restaurants with seasonally determined menus that change frequently based on what food is available from local farmers and producers. Among the sources for Farm Table are Chapel Hill Creamery and such farms as Mae, Pura Vida, Turtle Mist, Harris Robinette and Heritage.
As a result, dishes come and go but typically you'll find choices such as salads with fresh greens and house dressings, a charcuterie plate with a variety of cured meats, chicken and dumplings, short ribs, pork belly and a gruyere mac and cheese (it's apparently popular, more than one table near me ordered it on a recent visit). The pork medallions arrive on a plate amid hefty servings of collards and peach risotto. The collards' slightly bitter bite alternated with the sweet hint of peachiness in the risotto to play a palate-pleasing call-and-response. The four medallions were tender pillows of pork, prepared perfectly, each with just enough fat to be flavorful.
You can choose from a solid selection of North Carolina craft beers to accompany your meal. Among them are Big Boss Blanco Diablo, Mother Earth's Endless River, Dale's Pale Ale and Lonerider Shotgun Betty. If you prefer liquor, you're covered too. Along with the usual suspects found behind a typical bar, Farm Table has the full line from Chapel Hill's Topo distillery and makes several house specialties using Topo spirits. (The Lemonade Mojito made with Topo vodka is beyond refreshing.) Durham's own Krupnikas spiced honey liqueur can also be found there.
Dessert choices are limited—unless you count the specialty cocktails, as some of us may be inclined to do—with only three to choose from on my most recent visit. It doesn't matter, though. Whether you're choosing between two or 200 dessert options, zero in on the White Chocolate Caramel Banana Pudding whenever it is available. This isn't your Nana's banana pudding; it's better. (Sorry, grandma.) Anyone who witnessed me wolfing it down would have thought it was my first encounter with pleasure food after a long stint of deprivation.
The surroundings won't detract from your dining, although it can get a bit loud at busy times so it may hamper your conversational experience. The natural-feeling, woody dining room—wood tables, wood chairs with cushioned seats, wood screens and blinds—looks to hold about 75 people or so. The bar has room for another dozen, plus there is a sizeable patio seating area that boasts an outdoor fireplace.
If you're in Cary, Durham or some similar distance away, there isn't really anything about Farm Table distinguishing enough from closer restaurants to merit a special trip (except maybe the banana pudding). But if you're already in that area, or heading that way with a Pac-man appetite, then Farm Table will warmly welcome you to the neighborhood with relaxed style and appealing food.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Grab a place at the table"