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A new Needham restaurant, the Farmhouse, is a reminder of how much the front-of-the-house experience matters. At this point in dining, USA circa 2013, what else is going to make a farm-to-table-esque restaurant stand out? Not the name. Not the appealing decor, which showcases reclaimed barn wood, drinks in Mason jars, and the requisite sculpture of a pig. Not even the food, uncomplicated combinations heavy on seasonal produce.
All of this is pleasant enough—so pleasant you’ll find shades and versions all over town. So the burden of making a meal memorable falls to the people: The waitress who will talk with you about tattoos and interior design. The bartender with ties to the local music scene. The proprietors, a married couple with kids.