SARATOGA SPRINGS — Farmers Hardware is rustic, charming, resides in a carefully restored historic building and has an inspired brief menu of fine-casual food created by chef, co-founder and Saratoga Springs native Julia Sanzen. It’s open for breakfast and lunch. And happy hour. More on that later.
“I’ve heard a lot of hype,” said my niece Ann Marie, who jumped at the chance to go for lunch. Farmers Hardware, with its on-trend beverages and fashionably distressed interior, is aimed more at millennials like her than boomers like me. Evidence: seats with no backs.
The old production facility and warehouse to the Farmers Hardware on Broadway, built in 1925, is still connected to the former store by a bridge. It’s barn-like, spare, woody, with high ceilings. The main dining room is the first floor, with long wooden tables and cute, cube-like pine stools for seats. Order at a counter on the second floor; a third-floor room is available for any event that needs a hip space. Seats are available on all floors, though there is wheelchair access only to the first and second.
We met for lunch on a cold, cold day when every person who went in or out held the door open a lot longer than was necessary. Luckily, we found seats at one of the long tables near the back wall, away from drafts.
Ann Marie was already reading the menu on her phone while I was still looking around for a paper copy. Their brief menu is easy to browse on a small screen. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, with nine main dishes. Try a Tex-Mex turkey burger ($12), garden frittata ($12) or a spin on eggs Benedict, this with short ribs ($14). Each main includes a side of your choice; there are nine, including sticky bacon, roasted butternut squash with sage, crispy chili chickpeas, and pumpkin spice yogurt and granola parfait.
We left our coats and went upstairs to order. Ann Marie and the counter person had a long and serious discussion about coffee and beer that went completely over my head. Later, Ann Marie explained that their coffee is sourced from kru Coffee in Saratoga Springs. Also, they have nitro coffee.
Nitro coffee is cold brewed and comes out of a tap, and has been treated with nitrogen gas to give it a foamy, bubbly texture, like beer.
Nitro-ccino is fizzy cappuccino.
Ann Marie ordered cinnamon bun French toast ($10.50), two slices of cinnamon-swirl bread that had been dipped in an egg mixture, drizzled with a cinnamon cream cheese glaze. “There’s glaze on the other slice,” she said, lifting the top one to show me. She liked the sweet, cooked apple slices on top, too. “It’s definitely French toast, but not heavy,” she added, “and the apples are perfect.”
The hit of the day were the sweet potato tots. The tots look just like you’d expect, filled with shredded sweet potato like their cousin, and they’re crispy on the outside and mouthwatering, Ann Marie said. But there’s more. They’re glazed lightly with sugar, then sprinkled with sea salt. All of which gets going in your mouth at the same time. “I could eat these all day,” said Ann Marie.
They’re served with honey on the side, which you think would be way too sweet, but it’s got a kick of heat that makes it work, Ann Marie reported. Brilliant.
I ordered the staple sandwich ($10.50), the egg on a roll raised to new heights. It’s on a voluminous brioche roll that’s been toasted and sweetened with maple sriracha, with two slices of assertive bacon and lots of melty cheddar cheese folded into the scrambled eggs. “They didn’t skimp on the cheese,” Ann Marie observed. I liked the fresh black pepper that livened up the eggs, but the maple sweetness took over and just didn’t work for me.
The side was a small cup of lemony chicken soup, clearly homemade and with lots of meat. I stirred the fresh cilantro garnish into the soup, which dominated the sliced carrot and onion. The broth had some heat to it, perhaps from pepper. It was perfect for such a cold day.
About the beverages: the hot chocolate ($3 small) was piping hot and well about average for that beverage around here. The nitro-ccino cold brew coffee ($5) was exactly what Ann Marie expected, fizzy and zippy, with a foamy head, perfect for the millennial whose black ball cap read, “Fueled by caffeine and puppies.”
We sat and talked for a long stretch after the meal, feeling relaxed and lazy with no one rushing us out.
The tab for lunch, which I signed for with my finger on an iPad, came to $29, before tax and tip.
You can get a bloody Mary or mimosa with your breakfast, along with hot buttered rum and Irish coffee, just right for this weather. They have a small selection of better wines like Cavazza prosecco ($7 glass, $28 bottle) and locally brewed beers. Try the 518 Pick Me Up Craft beer, brewed in Clifton Park by Shmaltz Brewing Company.
WHERE: 35 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 518-934-3444, farmershardwaresaratoga.com
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
HOW MUCH: $29, before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards. ADA compliant on first and second floors. Public parking lot nearby. No reservations.