Farmer’s Punch (left), Hamlin & Julius (right)
  • Farmer’s Punch (left), Hamlin & Julius (right)
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Farmer & the Seahorse

10996 Torreyana Road, La Jolla

In the world of nightlife and dining, there are cool scenes and there are bad scenes. There are plenty of weird scenes out there, too. Then, there are the random scenes, the likes of which you’d never expect. Farmer & the Seahorse (there’s that pesky ampersand again), qualifies as one of the latter.

Acoustic duo in the lounge

Acoustic duo in the lounge

Live entertainment for Thursday and Friday happy hours. A vintage Airstream trailer, reservable for private events. Attractive furnishings calculated to evoke the playful, mismatched style of collegiate bohemianism. Kombucha in the cocktails, and bone broth prominently advertised at $4 per cup. Clients straight up bro-ing down in all their tech glory at an honest-to-goodness beer pong table. A manicured lawn so perfectly verdant and beautifully proportioned that perhaps, somewhere on the Côte d'Azur, an aristocratic billionaire sits scratching his head, wondering who airlifted his private resort halfway across the world.

Beer-pong table

Beer-pong table

The last place you’d expect to find such a scene would in the middle of a “campus” designed by a massive real estate equities firm to provide the employees of the local science firms a communal oasis among the sterile corporate offices along Torrey Pines Road.

Daily bone-broth special

Daily bone-broth special

And yet…here sits Farmer & the Seahorse, a Brian Malarkey–helmed restaurant venture amidst the office parks of the Alexandria at Torrey Pines, an “urban innovation campus,” as the company calls it. Kudos to the Malarkey group, which has experienced a string of disappointments on the heels of Searsucker’s initial success.

Croquet-worthy arcade

Croquet-worthy arcade

The surprise is that the place is unequivocally cool. Could a cocktail be any good if it includes vanilla vodka and yogurt? Heck yes. The Hamlin & Julius tastes like somebody went to the mall, bought an Orange Julius, and spiked it with Grey Goose. Ditto for the Farmer’s Punch, which reads like a sugary mess yet comes across refreshingly pungent courtesy of plenty of lemon and basil. Somebody in the organization has done the unthinkable and thought outside the box.

As of now, Farmer & the Seahorse is open only for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and Sunday brunch. Whether it has a future as a full-service restaurant is a matter of speculation, but at least for now it’s there to make us all rethink what goes into making a good spot.

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