photos by Sarah Parisi Dowlin
When I order a burger at The Farmstand Market & Cafe, nestled into a 1900s-era general store on Old Union Road in Union, KY, chef/owner Tricia Houston asks me from behind the bar if I want it medium or medium rare.
“I won’t go any darker than medium,” she mutters to one of the regulars. “I won’t be responsible for it coming out like a hockey puck.”
The sassy attitude stands out in such a simple, comfortable setting, but the doneness of your grassfed burger isn’t the only thing Houston has strong opinions about. Don’t even think about ordering a side of fries and a diet Coke, because she doesn’t have a fryer and the sodas she serves up are only of the sugar-cane variety. “I get flak for it all the time, and I don’t care … I don’t!” she insists with a grin.
However, if you can trust her on these details, you know you’re in for a good meal. As an organic farmer turned restaurateur, sustainability rules her place. Not only is the majority of her food sourced from a 250-mile radius, she knows the farmers and has visited the farms herself. Their names are written in chalk above the bar, and she can rattle off the breeds of animals they raise.
To say Houston is involved in the day-to-day workings of the business is an understatement. She’s packaging up to-go orders while prepping the mixer for tonight’s featured cocktail (a fig-infused Old Fashioned with house-made orange bitters) and chatting up regulars about next month’s specials. She’s a multitasker to the max—she even designed the restaurant logo for crying out loud! Take one bite of that burger and you’ll taste the love she has for this place.
Look for a second location at the Wooden Cask Brewery in Newport, KY, coming this spring.