Farmhaus isn’t your average hamburger restaurant
When Chef Sean Wight began thinking of opening a second restaurant in downtown Augusta, he decided to focus on something that seems like it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from his fine-dining establishment: a counter-service burger restaurant.
Farmhaus isn’t just any old burger restaurant, though. And despite how different it and Frog Hollow Tavern may appear to be, they are actually more alike than it seems upon first glance.
“Restaurants like this are popping up all over the southeast,” Wight, who owns Frog Hollow and Farmhaus with his wife Krista, explained. “I wanted something that featured local ingredients like we like to do here at Frog Hollow and I wanted to create a healthier style of burger.”
Frog Hollow, which just celebrated its third anniversary, was one of the first fine-dining restaurants in Augusta to embrace the locavore food movement. Chef Sean and his staff soon made a name for themselves there by offering dishes prepared with ingredients obtained in season and from local sources. That thinking carried over to Farmhaus when it opened last February. So much so that their slogan is “Beef Up Your Local Economy.”
Wight said there are many reasons to try and buy local whenever possible.
“We do it to support our local area, for one,” he said. “And then, two, you’re getting a fresher product if it doesn’t have to travel from California or South America or someplace like that. We don’t get anything imported from out of the country.”
At Farmhaus, the beef they use in burgers was carefully chosen after a four-month search of small, family farms. Buns come from bakeries in Atlanta. The ice cream is High Road organic and the milk is Hickory Hill. There are some exceptions, of course. The Point Reyes blue cheese comes from California and the Green Hatch Chilies are from New Mexico. The chilies, Wight said, are too good not to include.
“I went out to New Mexico and had my first green chili cheeseburger and I was like, ‘Man, if I ever do something, I want to put that on the menu,’” he explained. “We use real chilies that I get from New Mexico. They come one of those farms out there and we get them direct. I wanted the real deal.”
Those chilies now grace the New Mexico Burger, #2 on the “Haus” Burgers menu. It’s a customer favorite, but nothing can compare to how much everyone, including Wight, loves the #6. The Farmstyle includes a patty (your choice of beef, turkey or veggie) topped with a sunny side up egg, bacon, gouda and Duke’s mayo.
“Probably the Farmstyle, the one with the fried egg. It’s pretty darn good,” Wight said when asked which burger was his favorite. “It was something that we do here at Frog Hollow when the chefs are at lunch prepping.”
Farmhaus patrons don’t have to order one of the seven Haus burgers, though. They can also build their own by choosing from free goods and sauces (try the FHT Housemade Woo Sauce, a Worcestershire sauce made at Frog Hollow); $1 goods such as homemade pimento cheese and other cheeses, chili, slaw, onion rings and sautéed mushrooms; or $2 good such as homemade bacon jam and pork belly confit.
The menu also includes fries and sides (try the sweet potato tots), salads and hot dogs. The most intriguing thing about Farmhaus’ menu, however, has got to be its drinks. Of course, it offers the usual array of fountain drinks, non-alcoholic choices and shakes. Farmhaus also offers a full bar, craft cocktails and boozy shakes.
“Our niche is the boozy shake and probably the bestseller is the Gorilla Milk, which is Kahlua, vodka and tequila and organic vanilla ice cream,” said Farmhaus General Manager Darby Carpenter. “It tastes like a White Russian.”
The restaurant also has a great selection of beers… in cans.
“We don’t have any beers offered in bottles because Richmond County does not recycle glass,” Carpenter explained. “Every beer that we have that is not on draft is in a can and the reason for that is that we can recycle aluminum but we can’t recycle glass.”
Craft cocktails, including two new ones for fall, are popular at Farmhaus, as are their boozy floats. Right now, they’re offering Terrapin Pumpkin Fest with vanilla ice cream and a dash of nutmeg.
In the seven months they’ve been open, Farmhaus has developed a devoted following. And with all the options they offer, from homemade turkey and veggie burgers to gluten-free hamburger buns and beer, it’s not hard to see why. Wight says that now that Farmhaus has settled into a comfortable rhythm, he can now focus on expanding the burger restaurant into another market and opening Craft & Vine next door. Craft & Vine, scheduled to open after the first of the year, will focus on modern takes of Prohibition-style cocktails and tapas.
“That’s going be kind of our playground where we can do fun stuff and everything will be served family style, small plates,” Wight explained. “It’ll be totally designed to eat together and it’ll just come out when it’s ready and everybody will share.”
Until then, Chef Sean is just happy to have a spot that serves two of his favorites.
“I want to be able to get a good burger,” he said, “and I always like a good beer with my burger.”
At Farmhaus, customers can get both and a whole lot more.
1204 Broad Street, Downtown
Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.