Tucked away on Princeton’s Broadway Street, right next to the town’s public library, Farmer’s Daughter Bakery and Cafe nearly blends in with its neighboring shops and local dives — save for the bright yellow décor table and matching chairs sitting outside, two blue flags mounted on purple siding that read “Open,” and the restaurant’s large nameplate that takes up the entire front window.
Once inside the 3-year-old restaurant, it’s as if you’ve stepped out of Princeton. Although the interior has a small-town theme, the reclaimed barn doors covering the back wall serve more of an artistic purpose than a “Welcome to Southern Indiana” salutation. Even the wall décor — mostly photographs depicting local farming scenes — takes guests out of their seats and into an art museum. The rich, vibrant colors of each image — taken by local photographer Alex Morgan — contrasts well with the natural light that seeps in through the windows. The interior’s edgy, artistic style isn’t by accident. “There’s a reason it is the way it is,” says co-owner Sarah Wolfe. “I attended art school before I got into cooking. My first calling was and is art.”
Wolfe and business partner John Sherfield opened the eatery in 2009, bringing nearly 30 years of combined restaurant experience from all over the U.S., including Bloomington, Ind., Bellingham, Wash., and Savannah, Ga. “I think we both felt called to it for a long time,” Wolfe says about opening the cafe. And what better place to do it than in their hometown? “We saw a need, specifically in Gibson County, for a restaurant that offers locally-sourced ingredients and food,” adds Wolfe. “We also wanted to create a destination dining spot for the area.” They did both.
Of all the food prepared at Farmer’s Daughter, approximately 50 percent of it comes from local farms, including Hasenour Farms, which produces all of the restaurant’s pork and beef, and Wolfe’s parents’ farm, where they get eggs and herbs. “We’re not purists,” she says, “but we work hard to pull locally as much as we can. It tastes better. It’s fresher and it hasn’t been sitting in a freezer or a refrigerator. We can tell you everything about the cow or pig’s life, how it was raised and what it ate.” Nearly all of their protein, she adds, is locally sourced except for the chicken.
The menu includes a variety of homemade dishes for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, and dessert. There for dinner, my guest and I started our evening with the zesty garlic hummus ($5.50). Made from scratch, the hummus is a simple puree of organic, dried chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, zucchini, peppers, paprika, and salt and pepper. Served with warm, homemade bread, the appetizer did its job of setting the tone for the scrumptious dishes that awaited us during the main course.
For her entrée, my guest ordered a meatloaf platter ($12.50), which came with two pieces of Creole meatloaf delivered steaming with a complementary mashed potato side. Although we were impressed by how beautifully presented a meatloaf dish could be, my order of the chicken pesto pasta dish ($12) stole the show. Tossed with a mix of cream, Parmesan cheese, and perfectly toasted pine nuts, the penne pasta dinner was a mouthful of flavor and an eyeful of style — garnished with a small, decorative purple flower.
Despite full stomachs, we ordered dessert. With the help of our waiter, we decided upon the s’more treat. As is everything else, even this dessert was homemade, from the oversized graham cracker patties to the melted chocolate to the sugar-filled marshmallows. With a small propane torch, the waiter toasted the campfire treat tableside, making for another uniquely presented dish that (even full) we didn’t let go to waste.
Some other notable dishes on the menu include the benedict, a Sunday brunch specialty with buttery brioche topped with two eggs, ham, and herbed hollandaise sauce; Irma’s ham steak, which comes sprinkled with orange-rosemary marmalade; and an array of seasonal soups and salads.
The best part is how fresh it all is. Because so much of it is homegrown, vegetables are juicier, lettuce is crispier, and herbs are more potent. “We like to say we’re classically trained but locally sourced,” says Wolfe. “Everything from our homemade breads to our homemade marshmallows, we really do make it here. There’s not a whole lot of that going on here, so we wanted to offer something that was truly homegrown."
The Farmer's Daughter
Location: 125 W. Broadway St., Princeton, Ind. • Phone: 812-385-8900 • Dining Hours: Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays. • Website: www.farmersdaughterbakeryandcafe.com — Check them out on Facebook. • Adult Beverages: Yes • Prices: Lunch $6-$8; Dinner $10-$15 • Reservations: Yes • Payment: Accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.