In their first expansion beyond the Southeast, Farm Burger has brought their farm-to-table burger joint to Berkeley's new Gilman Village. The four-year-old mini-chain, which has three outlets around Atlanta and a fourth in Asheville, North Carolina, was born out of the farm collective that originally fed the celebrated Farm 255 in Athens. Although it might seem like a given in the Bay Area in 2014, Farm 255's ethos was seen as a necessary addition to the local food scene when it opened in 2005 and Farm Burger extended that idea to a casual, family-friendly neighborhood concept starting in 2010
Naturally, meat comes local: Beef is sourced from Bill Niman's BN Ranch, which raises hormone-free, grass-fed cattle in Contra Costa and Marin Counties. The rest of the proteins come from various Bay Area farms and the meatless options include a vegan patty made from quinoa and heirloom beans from Llano Seco. The idea is to help control costs by working directly with the people who grow their cattle, pigs and produce, co-founder George Frangos told EaterSF.
In the kitchen is recovering butcher Jamie Lloyd (Golden Gate Meats), who will be building out the menu in-house. Basic burgers start at $7.25 with a couple free topping choices and ramp up with the custom Blackboard Burgers like the No.1, a straightforward cheeseburger with Tillamook White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and house sauce for $8. The No.5 is a Berkeley exclusive topped with delicata squash and chickweed and Sierra Nevada goat cheese. At some point in the future, look out for a Hog Island Oyster Po'boy and a goat sloppy joe. And for the meatless and wheatless there are plenty of produce-only vegan and gluten-free items. There is Kale in all the places you might expect it.
On the drinks tip: beers from neighborhood and Bay Area favorites are on tap (Speakeasy, , wines are sold by the tumbler, pint or bottle and desserts include "adult floats" made with Chocolate stouts and hard ciders. Sides and non-burger items have a distinct Southern influence (think boiled peanuts and collard greens) but there's a diversity of options to satisfy everyone from picky kids to more courageous eaters who keep coming back for the fried chicken livers.
Even though they're now a bi-coastal chain, Frangos says they don't have any huge expansion plans, but the Berkeley location was a natural fit that lined up easily. The decor includes wood benches harvested during renovations at Cal Memorial Stadium and the keg coolers used to chill beer at Candlestick Park. Co-founder Jason Mann is alaso UC Berkeley grad and a California native, so he and Frangos partnered with "local instigator" Pic Walker to bring the project to West Berkeley's new Gilman Village development that includes a Whole Foods, Philz Coffee and Doughnut Dolly. The space became available when another tenant dropped out, so even the lease is reclaimed, if you think about it.