If you’re thinking of taking a day trip to view fall foliage, one good route is north on Highway 169 to the Lake Mille Lacs area, which is just coming into peak color season. And as long as you’re headed in that direction, Farm Market Cafe in Onamia is a good choice for lunch.
The Cafe is ambitious in its desire to provide residents and visitors with locally grown, organic foods, so much so that not only is pretty much everything made from scratch using local, organic ingredients (in season), but produce, meat, and breads and jams made in the cafe are available for retail sale. Products include Eller Family Farm meats, Dutch Fury Farm fruits and vegetables, and 4 V’s Farm’s produce, chickens, and eggs.
Sourcing is important, but it’s what Farm Market Cafe does with the ingredients that makes it worth a stop.
On a recent visit, we tried the veggie burger ($8.50), a somewhat risky venture, given that so many cafes don’t quite understand how to approach this item. But Farm Market Cafe does; the burger itself is vegan and gluten-free (although the bun it’s served on is not), and it’s a tasty combination of squash and wild rice — the latter an appropriate tip-of-the-hat to the local wild rice industry — along with several gluten-free grains and veggies.
It was flavorful and filling, although texturally it didn’t hold together well (tip: use a fork for least-messy eating). That’s a minor issue with an otherwise exemplary offering. Also on the plate were blue-corn tortilla chips and a coleslaw that was vinegar (rather than mayo) based and proved to be a tangy, crispy counterpart to the mild burger.
The Cafe’s house soup is chicken and noodle ($6 for a bowl, $4 for a cup), and it’s also worth ordering. The broth is surprisingly light, but still rich-tasting, and there are sizable chunks of chicken along with a generous helping of thick-yet-tender homemade noodles. It’s served with a choice of several fresh-baked breads. Our choice, the oatmeal molasses, was an earthy, dense bread that was spread with a delightfully thick layer of butter, and it held its texture well when dunked in the broth.
Other baked goods of note were a blueberry pie ($3.50) with a light, flaky crust and tart filling, and a blackberry muffin ($1.25) that was of a pleasingly normal size, not the usual “Hulk got angry” portion served at so many places. The muffin was full of berries and not overly sweet.
Fall foliage. Home-cooked food. Hard to beat that combo for a day trip.
Farm Market Cafe
Local foods grocery and cafe in Onamia
108 Wall Street S
Onamia, MN 56359
OWNER / CHEF-OWNER: Barbara Eller and others / Pat Root
HOURS: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes/yes
ENTREE RANGE: $6-11
PARKING: Free adjacent lot