River Valley Farmer's Table | Chicago

River Valley brings products straight from their farm to their café

It all started with mushrooms.

River Valley Ranch, founded in 1976, is best known for their giant portabellos. You may have seen their overflowing tables at farmers markets all over the city. Now, it's got a permanent home. The new River Valley Farmer's Table in the former City Provisions space on Wilson Avenue actually is what so many restaurants pretend to be: an honest to God farm–to-table restaurant (plus a market for River Valley products).

On the market side, coolers are heaped full of mushrooms: shiitake, button, oyster, crimini. Onions, shallots and potatoes from the farm fill bins in the front window and the shelves are packed with jars of wild mushroom-Burgundy pasta sauce, heirloom tomato salsa and pickles. We can't stop eating their spicy pickled mushrooms ($8) straight from the jar.

Portabello and Swiss cheese bratwurst simmered in beer.

The café side serves an all-day sandwich and snack menu. The portabello mushroom and Swiss cheese bratwurst ($8), braised in beer and topped with sauerkraut and a swath of whole grain mustard, was so tender that it burst at the touch of a fork. Poutine ($9), made with Black Earth grass-fed beef and mushroom gravy is a glorious, savory mess, crowned with a poached egg.

While you eat, check out the giant, colorful wall murals. Who's driving that tiny tractor? A mushroom, of course.