Cross the threshold into the wood farmhouse restaurant and you might just feel like you've traveled back to the 1800s. But it's not because the newly constructed American comfort food and Northwest cuisine eatery located in the historic colony district of Aurora is old and falling apart, there's a trending old-time vibe that is prevalent throughout the building.
Filberts Farmhouse Kitchen, which opened just before the New Year, uses a farm-to-table concept that utilizes local farms and businesses for sourcing some of its ingredients and beverages like wine and tap beers.
"One of the things we wanted to do was build that community feel. Being in Aurora in the Willamette Valley, there are a lot of bounty within this area," said Aaron Wolfe, general manager at Filberts. "We're getting our parsnips from Canby, hazelnuts here in Hubbard and Aurora. We're getting all-natural Oregon beef from a ranchers co-op in Oregon."
And the restaurant has a unique twist.
The restaurant is a blend of new construction and the original Mohler Farmhouse, which was constructed in 1865, and it carries the vision of the historic architecture of the original part of the house. Larger groups of guests can even enjoy their lunch or dinner in the original farmhouse on one of its longer tables.
"They did such a great job making it (the new addition) fit into the rest of the house. It just looks like it belongs," Wolfe said.
As people enter the restaurant, there's a casual dining space with booths and tables, an outdoor patio that overlooks the original orchards and a more upscale area toward the back.
"I think both (spaces) are really cool. In the casual dining space, here we have booths that are made from old reclaimed wood that's nearly 100 years old," Wolfe said, adding that the bar has red stools that provide a pop of color in a building that's very monochrome.
Downstairs there is a private dining banquet hall and another outdoor patio that groups can reserve.
"It's a place where you can put on a nice dress and go out or you can feel good coming in, coming off of working outside all day long and still feel comfortable. That was the idea behind it," said Wolfe.
Aside from sourcing local food and beverages from Aurora and nearby areas, Filberts Farmhouse is decorated with artwork from local antique shops.
"The owners, they love Aurora; they want to give back to Aurora," Wolfe said. "This isn't a little mom- and pop-style restaurant by any means. While the owners are local, they live here in Aurora, that's kind of a big risk to take, putting a restaurant of this magnitude in a town of 990 people but I think they wanted to do something for the community."
The restaurant offers a variety of starters, sandwiches, brick oven pizzas and entrees including coastal mac and cheese with shrimp, crab, cod and salmon, wild mushroom and spinach manicotti and fish and chips.
"You sit in that old Mohler house that was built 150 years ago when Abraham Lincoln was in the White House and you think about the foods that were eaten in that house 150 years ago: pork chops, cornbread, meatloaf, those kinds of things that are American comfort foods, classics," Wolfe said, adding that the menu will also shift with the weather. Warm weather will bring in more fruits and fresh vegetables. "We have a thick, huge pork chop and it's crusted with filberts and so we're retaining a little bit of our name in that dish, but we are also serving a quality item and it's topped with an apple relish."
Wolfe said he experiences an emotional connection with the food, because it's similar to food his mom made for him when he was a child.
Though the bar menu might not have the most extensive options, the craft cocktails are mixed with local alcohol brands and add an old-fashioned twist to classic picks.
Wolfe said the bartender makes a popular Mohler Mule using Burnside Bourbon as well as a filbert-infused Old-Fashioned. Bar staff also has created a pear martini that uses locally grown pears to make the puree for the drink.
Diving in to future plans
Though Filberts Kitchen has been open for about seven months and has proven quite successful, the bustling restaurant has plans to deepen its ties to the community and strengthen its customer base.
Restaurant staff hopes to have the private dining space booked on a more consistent basis, and they plan on adding a self-contained kitchen on the lower patio later this summer.
Filberts owners also plan to turn the empty lot on the side of the building into a wedding venue.
Wolfe said the area could be expanded for weddings to fit about 80 to 100 people — maybe more.
"Every summer people try to find places to book and it's virtually impossible because everything is filled like a year out so I think there's opportunity," he said. "Secondly, I think that it's a beautiful venue. We are out in the country. There's a place where you could have your wedding, have your rehearsal dinner, you could have your reception and really make it a lot easier for people. We are on the highway, close to the freeway. We are centrally located between Portland and Salem and a lot of other communities."
For more information on Filberts Farmhouse Kitchen, visit https://www.filbertsfarmhousekitchen.com/.
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