Home-Grown Cooking at Farmers Grain - 405 Magazine

Home-Grown Cooking at Farmers Grain

Seasonal excellence in downtown Edmond with Farmers Grain

Photo of venison with turnips, beets, chile ash from Farmers Grain

Venison with turnips, beets, chile ash | Photos provided by Tiffany Johnson

What’s old is new again. It’s an adage that holds true at Farmers Grain, a seasonally driven restaurant at 102 W. 1st Street in downtown Edmond. Its name — and its ethos — is drawn from a bygone flour mill that lives on in the form of scratch-made, locally sourced cooking in a space channeling the atmosphere of a home dinner party. After the closure of Edmond Flour Mill, founded in 1891 as Oklahoma’s first grain elevator and mill, local farmers banded together to form Farmers Grain, a collective designed to market their grains. A century later, the OKC metro has evolved from farmland to a metropolis, and while the original Farmers Grain is no more, a new iteration lives on in the form of a family-run restaurant that’s just as dedicated to farm-fresh cooking and home-grown ingredients.

Today, Farmers Grain is the handiwork of the Mills family, who transformed the original Farmers Grain storefront into an Oklahoma-style bistro where candles flicker and clinking stemware contributes to the convivial soundtrack. Owned by brothers Cy and Payne Mills, the former being the sommelier and the latter the chef, Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar is at once an homage to the forebear that paved the way, and a leap forward. As Cy explained, the family that wanted to lease the space initially sought to fill it with a sandwich shop, but considering the Mills family’s history in finer dining, they pivoted in a more upscale direction, all the while adhering to those same heritage traditions that made the original Farmers Grain such a pioneer. 

The Mills brothers started work on the restaurant in March of 2020 — plenty of time to build out the space and get the permits to open in the summer of 2022, initially for five-course ticketed meals on weekends. “Staffing at that time was difficult to do, and we needed to make it work,” Cy explained. “My mom was at the host stand, my dad was washing dishes, my wife was helping bus tables, my brother and his wife were in the kitchen.” After early staffing woes, they found their groove, and by October of 2022 had a fully staffed restaurant open five nights a week with regular menus and a full bar. “Since then, it’s been a crazy wild ride of progression.” 

Photo of Robuchon potatoes with potatognocchi and potato gaufrettes from Farmers Grain
Robuchon potatoes with potato gnocchi and potato gaufrettes | Photos provided by Tiffany Johnson

Describing Farmers Grain as a refined farm-to-table concept, “a little upscale and a little rowdy,” Cy said they didn’t know if it would work. “We had red dirt country music playing while serving fine French food.” Turns out, there’s something to fine dining in comfier confines. The restaurant has since evolved organically — polishing up the music a bit, for instance — but the philosophy is still upscale seasonal cooking in a dining room designed to make guests feel at home. “There are restaurants in the city that are fantastic, but they’re an experience you do once or twice a year,” Cy said of OKC’s fine dining scene. “We wanted to bring that same level of food, but in an environment where people can come once a week.” 

Much of that comfort is a testament to Payne’s food.“Okies are picky. They know what they like and they’re particular,” Cy said. “We took what they’re particular with and really elevated it.” Taking that same at-home approach as the ambience, Payne cooks the way they eat at home — albeit with an artistic flair for technique and presentation. “We’re country Oklahoma boys. We hunt, we garden. That’s how we eat at home,” added Cy.  “So that’s the kind of stuff you see on the menu.” Rigorously seasonal, the menu changes regularly but may include the likes of venison with beets and turnips, fall gourd bisque, and smoked Cornish hen with fall quinoa pilaf. “Everything that was in the field is now on your plate,” Cy noted. “It’s got this fine French touch, but it’s not French food — it’s a polished version of what’s comfortable.” 

Payne’s cuisine is paired with Cy’s wine list, among the best in the metro. A sommelier for 15 years, he parallels his brother’s cooking by orchestrating a wine list he describes as “a polished approach to things that are not as well known,” like Hungarian wines and varietals from Northern Italy. “Affordability is much lower because it’s not from a market where the prices are driven sky-high,” he explained. “It’s steakhouse-quality wines from places that not a ton of people know, but they’ve been around forever.” 

Like the Farmers Grain that came before it, the Mills brothers have planted a seed that may well be around forever, too. 

Looking for more good taste? Check out Pick Your Pastrami