PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF WM. FARMER AND SONS
The city of Hudson is no stranger to a culinary cool and a tailored aesthetic. As much as this stature is celebrated, it is almost equally derided as “too cool” or “hipster” even. So when does “cool” get to reclaim some of its lost value and just be a sort of humble cool again?
Wm. Farmer and Sons (pronounced William Farmer and Sons), a bar/restaurant and boarding house directly across from the Hudson train station on the fringe of the Warren Street corridor, arguably recovers a sense of this humble cool with its handsome interiors, bespoke cocktail program and southern-tinged menu with nods to both the Hudson Valley and Appalachia. If you were to ask co-owners/ husband and wife team William Kirby Farmer and Kristan Keck about the cool factor, they would be dismissive and insist that such self-importance and “highfalutin coolness” is not at all their aim. Their aim is true, or at least intended to access a flavor of truth in regional American cuisine that draws influence from Farmer’s upbringing in the Carolinas.
Farmer and Keck met a decade ago in NYC and moved up to Germantown in 2008. In spring of 2013 they purchased the property that is now Wm. Farmer and Sons (the name is a salute to three generations of Farmers—Kirby, his father, William, and his toddler son), which was operating as a guesthouse with an abandoned restaurant space on the ground floor. Farmer and Keck continued running the guesthouse on the upper floors while they gutted the ground floor, making way for what would be the bar, restaurant and café (called Mercantile), which opened in 2015. The project was admittedly no easy redo but gave the couple the ability to completely reconsider the venue and find their mode of expression through the space, menu and overall purpose of the endeavor. To hear Keck say it, they decided to really “bloom where they were planted.”
The bloom is an impressive one, with rustically masculine interiors, with repurposed naval chairs in the dining room (outfitted with a little under-shelf to store your naval cap) purchased in Keck’s home state of Maryland, working gas lamps on the exterior of the building and a long communal table in the center of the dining room. The menu is a reflection of Farmer’s roots. Even though he is a Culinary Institute grad, Farmer populates the menu with Chicken Fried Frogs Legs and, as you could imagine, a lot of pork in the form of ham, shanks and even chicharrones. The bar program was lovingly engineered by Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey in NYC and is a balanced mix of contemporary elegance and whimsy (there is a drink called Penicillin with Scotch whisky, lemon, ginger and honey). The upstairs digs, featuring 11 guest rooms, all uniquely outfitted, redone and named after both family members and beloved canines, serve as an ideal destination to rest your head after a generous meal and equally generous libations. —E. Steinman
Wm. Farmer and Sons
20 South Front Street, Hudson