Every time I turn around these days, a new startup is popping up to deliver either cooking kits or prepared meals to your home or office.
Almost all of them, though, zero in on San Francisco first, before spreading to other parts of the Bay Area.
Not so with Farm Hill.
The founders, Marc Manara and Mark Wittman, who got the idea for the business while students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, started the service first in the South Bay. They wisely deduced that in urban centers like San Francisco, it’s fairly easy to walk out the door to find a tasty lunch close by. But in more suburban areas, going for lunch often means getting in the car to drive a few miles for sustenance.
Farm Hill’s food is made fresh each morning in a Redwood City commercial kitchen. Currently, deliveries are available between San Jose and Redwood City. Farm Hill is working to expand that territory, moving up the Peninsula to San Francisco over the next few months.
I recently had a chance to sample some of the offerings.
All the food is gluten-free and dairy-free. About 60 percent of the ingredients are organic, with the plan to eventually make that 100 percent. Vegetarian and paelo options are available.
You choose what you want — be it lunch for one or for 1,000 — and it’s delivered to your door in time for lunch. No extra delivery fee is added. So the price you see online is the price you pay. And it’s a fairly reasonable price-point with entrees, $9.99 to $14.50, about what you’d pay for food alone at a sit-down restaurant.
You can order a few days in advance or as late as the day of as long as it’s before 10:30 a.m.
On my appointed delivery day, my doorbell rang at about 11:30 a.m. A smiling Farm Hill employee was at my doorstep, dressed in a cheery orange logo T-shirt, and carrying a bag that held the two entrees I had ordered.
The Classic Chicken ($9.99) held a sliced herb-flected Rocky Jr. breast that was not super moist but moist enough (after all, that’s what you get with chicken breast). Alongside were piles of a raw curly kale salad, roasted carrots, shredded zucchini with almonds, a small wedge of steamed kabocha squash, organic brown rice, organic dates, and a lemon-tahini dressing.
This food is as far from the golden arches as you can get. It’s vibrant and fresh tasting. It also tastes good for you. What I really loved were all the various textures in just that one dish. This particular entree was like a plate you’d assemble at a salad bar — only if the salad bar contained really primo ingredients, and not the usual canned or defrosted items you normally get.
The Garden Salad with Salmon ($14.50) was comprised of a small, chilled fillet of salmon that was nicely moist. A fuchsia-hued, tangy, slightly creamy blueberry dressing came in a separate container. There was also baby kale, spinach, Asian pear, butternut squash, celery slices, avocado, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, almonds, millet and wild rice. You see what I mean about all the different textures in one bite? I really liked the addition of the butternut squash in this salad, as well as the kabocha in the chicken dish, because both lend a natural sweetness, as well as substantialness.
Farm Hill also offers snacks such as date bites ($2.50), chipotle-lime almonds ($2.50), and matcha chia pudding ($3.50). Additionally, there’s soup ($5.99 for a cup), and a selection of beverages, including cold-brewed Stumptown Coffee ($3.50).
Although it’s more costly, Farm Hill might just be the next best thing to brown-bagging it yourself.