Farmington is represented on 100 Places in the D! With a visit to Ground Control Coffee, a cozy coffee house with sweet baristas and flavor-packed brews.
The coffee shop in downtown Farmington is a great place to camp out and get work done, or settle into an armchair and catch up with a friend. Plus, its name is both a coffee-related pun AND a reference to a David Bowie song. How many coffee shops can boast such namesake bona fides?
Ground Control roasts its own beans, and the result is the richly flavored cappuccino I ordered. Coffee and espresso drink choices include a lavender-and-lemon-infused latte and the Vanilla Cream Nitro, a nitro cold brew coffee served with vanilla sweet cream (Wow!). A selection of tea drinks are also available, as are sweet and savory baked goods, including croissant varieties ranging from chocolate to the Goat Cheese, Olive & Oregano.
To visit Host is to have an EXPERIENCE! An immersive, thoughtfully curated, extremely delicious one. From its phenomenal food, drink, service, and ambiance, this restaurant in downtown Utica checks ALLLL the boxes.
Host is unique. Not only is it a restaurant-slash-coworking space, it also offers rotating residencies to chefs. That means that every month or two, there’s a brand-new menu!
Take a look at Host’s schedule for the next several months. As of the writing of this post (February 2023), Chef Mark Camaj (who helped open SheWolf) has curated an enticing array of Italian dishes. German food pop-up DeutschTroit will take residence for the month of March. Then Italian returns when Chef Michael Murabito brings a Sicilian Mediterranean menu in April and May. And chef duo Breakin’ Cornbread will kick off summer at Host with a menu described as “Big Energy Comfort Food,” available from June to mid-July. There’s tastiness for DAYS!
I visited Host in early November. Chefs Davante Burnley (now Host’s Executive Chef) and Kiluanji Watkins curated a menu of extreme deliciousness. Dining with three friends who love food as much as I do meant sharing a variety of dishes. These included the Confit Duck Pontine, Smoked Plum and Burrata, and Crudites (a spread of smoked pepper hummus, confit tomato and garlic, fresh vegetables, and grilled pita). Yes, these dishes were all as amazing as they sound! With its hand-cut fries topped with shredded duck, pecorino cheese, chives, and a sumptuously rich duck demi glaze that I could drink by the gallon, the Duck Pontine in particular was to die for.
That spread could have been a complete meal in itself, but you know we had to try more! We continued by ordering individual entrées. For me, that was the Lamb Bolognese. I’m a sucker for lamb Bolognese! And chefs Davante’s and Kiluanji’s version did not disappoint. Their ground lamb arrabbiata tossed with bucatini noodles and accented with shredded pecorino and fresh basil was full of flavor.
After eating our own dinners, our group reconvened the family-style experience, sharing the Cider Mill Donuts. And you know, based on everything else you’ve previously read, that those donuts were ABSOLUTELY as good as you’re imagining. Better, even! The fresh-fried donuts were oh-so-delectably crispy on the outside, soft and cakey on the inside. Tossed in cinnamon sugar, they were served with a house-made caramel sauce. And they were LIFE. What a mic drop to an amazing meal!
Throughout this exceptional culinary journey, we were also imbibing exceptional drinks. I started with the Avocadica, an intriguing concoction of tequila and mezcal infused with lime and spicy avocado. I ended with a fantastic rendition of a classic: an Old-Fashioned.
While at Host, my friends and I were well taken care of. Our server was great, friendly and attentive, and both the bartender and Chef Davante paid us visits. The bartender gave us drink recommendations, and we enjoyed thanking Chef Davante for our exquisite meal!
Ambiance-wise, I was totally feeling Host, too. The decor incorporates both natural and modern elements. Cut-outs in the wall behind the bar are covered with verdant moss, while an arrangement of dried plants and pendant lights hanging from the ceiling highlight a long table in the center of the restaurant. The tables are bedecked with vases of fresh flowers, and an art installation comprised of what look to be large, neutral-colored dried leaves, moss, and feathers is emblazoned with the restaurant’s name in neon-light letters. It all meshes into a vibe that’s both chic and cozy. It’s an ambiance that enhances the immersive feeling you get when you visit Host. You leave the everyday world behind for one that feels intimate, special.
Speaking of ambiance: I’m thinking I need to check out Host’s coworking space. Judging from pictures on Host’s website, it’s got ambiance for days, with plush leather chairs, exposed brick, and velvety green curtains. Packages range from the Office – which, at a fee of $1,100 a month, presumably hosts a team – to the $29-a-day drop-in fee for individuals.
Not only does the restaurant offer dinner, but it boasts a brunch menu, plus what it’s dubbed a “Coffee & Pastries Pop Up” on Mondays. Check Host out for yourself, and prepare to have an experience!
Westview Orchards & Winery is a cornucopia of delights!
The Washington-based you-pick farm, cider mill, and winery began in 1813. For over 200 years, it’s been owned and operated by the same family. That’s an impressive legacy!
Most of Westview’s offerings – including its you-pick produce, market, and Farm Fun playground and activities for kids – won’t open until spring or early summer. But its winery is reopening tomorrow, February 24! And as I learned in October, the Westview Winery is worth checking out.
I was at Westview one chilly October morning to run in a Halloween-themed 5K race. It was the kind of race that gave out shirts that said, “Witch way to the wine?” So you might expect the course to be a cruise. But this course was not beginner-level. It wound up- and downhill along fields of grapevines and orchards. And this trail was crowded – with mostly walkers, so much so that I ended up running along the rocky, grassy side of the trail to bypass them (a move I would not recommend). But the views along the trail were gorgeous! And the race reminded me that there’s nothing quite like that exhausted yet exhilarated feeling I get when I, as a non-runner, successfully slow-jog my way through three miles. Unless it’s swilling a glass of red wine at 9:45 in the morning after completing said slow-jog.
Wine had initially sounded unappealing after all that exertion. But once I got to sipping, it tasted pretty darn good! That’s to the credit of Westview’s winemakers. I got to sample more of their wares at the onsite wine bar. A friend had earned five free bottles of Westview’s wine by assembling a team of 20 runners! A generous soul, she opened some of them to share with the group. While I can’t remember the names of the wines I tried that day, I do remember that they were delicious!
The winery’s wares include a variety of both sweet and dry wines, plus hard ciders made from the orchard’s apples. The dry wines include a Gewürztraminer named Wine der Woman and a semi-sweet merlot blended with cranberries aptly named Cranberry Crush.
Participating in the race also earned me one of Westview’s delectably fresh donuts. Is there anything better than cider mill donuts?
While we’ll have to wait for those delectably fresh donuts to come back into season, we can daydream about them in Westview’s wine bar. Located on the second floor of a barn, it’s cute and cozy, sparkling with twinkle lights, the tables bedecked with pumpkins and sunflowers on the day of my visit. And this March, we can attend two classes at Westview: one on spring-wreath-making, the other, charcuterie-board-assembling. Even in the off-season, there’s plenty to do at Westview!