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“One of our favorites”
Review of SoCo Farm and Food

SoCo Farm and Food
Ranked #9 of 158 Restaurants in Wilson
Price range: USD 50 - USD 50
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Description: SoCo Farm and Food offers adventurous updates on comforting classic dishes as well as bed and breakfast lodging on a working, Wilson NC horse farm. Dinner by Reservation only.
Reviewed 24 February 2016

This restaurant makes me wonder if I'm really in Eastern NC. The food and menu is extremely inventive, and usually excellent. Every now and then I don't care for a particular dish, but considering I've been over a dozen times that's bound to happen. The wine pairings are always on point. It's really an amazing dining experience with fresh, inventive, delicious food and amazing wine pairings. Great for groups, or date night. We've also done the chef's table with a large party and it's a lot of fun! Definitely recommend this restaurant, you must try it!

1  Thank andiegav123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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10 - 14 of 55 reviews

Reviewed 30 December 2015

I am not a chef, but I imagine that this is where chefs go to be impressed. My wife and I went here for our 7th anniversary, even though it was an hour and a half away, as it was meant to be special: it did not disappoint and was well worth the drive! The owners of this farm--one who cooks and one who serves--essentially open up their beautiful farm to share the most delicious culinary creations with their guests. I can also tell that they are living their dream and are passionate about what they are doing, which is inspiring and evident in every detail. The service is kept intimate and personal as a result of them capping guests at (I estimate) 15 at a time in reservation cycles. Most of the vegetables come from their garden or somewhere very close. The wine pairings are executed so thoughtfully and deliberately that even I think I will try it next time after my wife had such a good experience (I'm mostly a beer drinker, and was more than happy with the selection of craft beers on hand). There are so many unique atmospheric aspects of this establishment that I want to leave them as a surprise to anyone considering eating here. Plan for about two hours, as this is more than just ordering a meal; it is a dining experience that is almost tantric and satisfying at a visceral level.

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1  Thank Joel C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 December 2015

Ate at SoCo with great anticipation. Family of foodies looked forward to the farm to table approach. Had heard to expect "rustic" environs and was pleased yet still a bit surprised at how rustic. It seems that by now the proprietors may have stepped it up a notch to "finish" the dining barn while maintaining the atmosphere of "being on the farm." Loved the look of the bar area, and rough hewn tables. The rustic atmosphere, though a bit rough, does not detract from the experience, but may not enhance it as much as it possibly could.
Staff was great and warm, greeting us by name and remembering that one of our party was gluten free. We were pleased to learn that since everything was made from scratch, that she had lots of options. The service was excellent, never rushed and attentive without trying to create a show.
The menu had changed since being published on the website as the menu of the month. The much anticipated New York Strip had been substituted for a rib eye. An issue for some in our party who don't like to work around fat in their meats, but a nice cut indeed.
My wife asked if the salad dressing had mayonnaise, as she never eats mayo. The waitress said "I don't know but I'll ask" only to bring out the salads and let her know that the dressing did contain mayo. The dressing was not on the side, rather had been already poured over the starter. I would have expected at least an affirmation of the contents with options as mentioned above or that the dressing was on the side, leaving the diner a choice. In the end the salad was very good, yet she had to work around the mayo.
The entree choices of rib eye and scallops made our decision a bit challenging. When the rib eyes arrived they were cooked on the rare side of medium rare. I mentioned to the waitress that I was surprised at how rare the beef was prepared without presenting diners an option. She advised that the "chef knows best how to prepare grass fed beef." I guess we should have asked at ordering or expected that they would have advised that the chef recommends a more rare temperature unless we preferred otherwise.
Dessert was wonderful with a dark chocolate pot de creme chosen by all in our party, yet the seasonal cake sounded interesting.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal and experience, though I can't say that this meal would fall in my top 5 destinations for fine food in eastern NC. At the given price point I guess I would expect more attention to customer preferences. However, when I read the staff responses to some of the critical reviews, it appears that in this instance the Chef knows best and the customer is expected to adjust.

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Thank bigdumbandugly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 November 2015

We’ve been guests at several farm fresh dinners in rustic, interesting places. Such a venue has the potential to delight taste as well as the other senses. One, on Whidbey Island, WA, was the best meal ever. Another near Rochester, NY, allowed for tastings of 23 foods and flavors in an old barn.

SoCo is not there yet and needs some work.

To reach SoCo for the six o’clock seating on a November Friday night required a drive of 20 miles over mainly dark, country roads. We pulled in over a bumpy drive and found our way to what appears to be a horse paddock for parking. We followed another couple to a concrete block building that may have had an earlier life as a grain bin. High ceiling, some decoration on the walls and a large shelf of SoCo products created the setting for about ten tables for two or four. A wine bar filled one wall by the entrance.

The four course prix fixe menu offered salad with tomato, ranch, bacon and house croutons as the first course. Next came a choice of roasted tomato and red pepper soup or SoCo shrimp cocktail. The entree was NY strip steak with mashed and loaded potatoes with peppercorn cream sauce or cast-iron seared salmon with butter-mashed sweet potatoes and creamy dill sauce. Dessert was toasted pecan pie or dark chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting and caramel (and garnished with Cocoa Puffs—really!). We both ordered a Macrostie chardonnay at the bar upon entering. The serving size of the wine, however, I would estimate at 3 oz—about half the normal serving in most establishments.

Three pleasant young women, including the chef’s wife, were our servers. Between the two of us, we ordered every item on the menu and shared. The food was generally fine, with qualifications. The chef apparently loves bacon. We found it in salad and potatoes and I thought I’d found it in the pecan pie until I was told that the toasted pecans gave it that flavor. Who knew. The soup was served in a bowl, but without underlying plate. A faux pas in fine eating establishments.

The cast iron seared salmon wasn’t! We were told after ordering and after the salad that the salmon was in a plastic bag, could not be seared and would be buttery. That explanation was given in a soft voice and was fairly incomprehensible. In fact, it appeared to have been poached and we left over half of it on the plate. With two entrees listed for the entire month of November, we have no idea why salmon preparation could not meet specifications ten days into the month.

The other problem was that there was no show. Typically, in this setting, the chef will come out at the start of dinner and explain his/her process, the ingredients and how the dinner will unfold. The patrons are involved in the process and invited to look for certain flavors and subtleties. This is not a restaurant open every night. It’s a weekend special offering at a fixed price and needs to engage the audience. This did not happen at SoCo Farm and Food.

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3  Thank ChipD58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jeremy L, Owner at SoCo Farm and Food, responded to this reviewResponded 1 December 2015

Mr. Dawson, I appreciate that you gave us 4/5. But in reading your Wilson reviews, among others, I think you missed so much of the rich personality and nuances—not only of our farm—but of our city and county of Wilson. After your two-day visit to our city, on your 2300-mile road trip from your home in NY, you labeled Wilson a “sad place,” and a “very poor NC mill town.” We’re not sad, and we’ve never been a mill town, Wilson was, and still is, a tobacco city—though it’s changed. For decades we had one of the largest, most vibrant markets on the East Coast. When the tobacco markets began disappearing decades ago, Wilson lost revenue, farms, families, its notion of community—and part of its identity.

But to end the story there would be to miss the culture and complex charm of this rural eastern NC city. Here I’m referring to the novelty of small town America, of southern hospitality, of being mere minutes from miles and miles of beautiful farmland and winding two-lane roads. I’m referring to civil war sites, historic architecture, and a well-preserved way of life and warmth that you won’t find in larger cities. Our own highway 301 was once the main artery between New York and Florida. Heck, in 2 hours you could take an amazing country road drive to our beautiful coast.

My favorite thing about eastern NC: the barbecue. A good plate of barbecue is life changing, and we—like the surrounding counties—have a lot of it. Or perhaps you’ve not enjoyed a great cheeseburger served from one of the numerous grills hidden inside family-run, rural eastern NC gas stations. You eat the cheese off the paper wrapper and take a swig of Cheerwine while watching farm equipment move slowly by, usually with a mile of cars rolling lazily behind.

I was raised in a nomadic military family, typically living in big cities, but have lived in Wilson for nearly 11 years. I love being in Wilson. I love driving the back roads during sunset. I love standing outside on our farm; listening to the owls, foxes and coyotes at night. I love falling asleep to the deep rumble of a midnight train passing behind our farm. I also love having a farm and restaurant in Wilson.

I remember you arriving, though we didn’t have the chance to speak. It’s unusual for me to be in the main dining room before the end of dinner service, typically around 9:30 or 10p.m. as I cook during service. I do talk to diners during service, but regularly only with the private chef’s table which is just off the kitchen. I would enjoy having more time to talk with everyone. I can say unequivocally we have the best diners and they are the only reason we’ve done well for the past 5 years.

I want to clarify: everything you ate is scratch made with a lot of NC ingredients—the ranch dressing, the croutons were made from bread I baked. The dairy and eggs we use come from our and nearby farms. We grew the salad greens. The bacon (I do like bacon) was raised and made on a free-range farm at the end of our road. The shrimp was fresh from the waters of NC. The NY Strip was from an NC farm, as were the organic sweet potatoes and Yukons. The herbs in the chimichurri and dill sauces came from our garden. The “plastic bag” method I use to cook the fish is “sous vide,” and is truly one of the most gentle ways to cook delicate and lean meats. There is no bacon in the pecan pies (though I like how you think!) I smoked the local pecans before I made the pies. And I am glad you liked the Cocoa Puffs on the chocolate cake. I feel it balances the possibly pretentious bruléed Italian meringue with a dash of whimsy. I’ve also used Fritos, Funyuns, Capt’n Crunch or Fruity Pebbles, among others.

The one comment I can’t allow to pass by: that not having a plate under a soup bowl is a “faux pas.” Heavens. Only if we’re still in 1982. Besides, the plates are transported to the main dining room from the kitchen, which is in another building about 20 feet away. I would likely only encourage sliding, spilling soup bowls if I used additional plate ware. Six of my bowls fit perfectly on a covered half-sheet tray. Efficiency is key is with our small staff and current cold nighttime temperatures. That said, if you return, I will supply you with all the extra plates your heart desires.

And if you return to Wilson, maybe warmer weather will give our botanic gardens a better chance to impress. Maybe you’ll enjoy a gas station cheeseburger and a sunset country drive, with the windows down and your favorite music playing. Perhaps you’ll dine here again and ask us about our farm—our horses, goats, garden, fruit trees, bee hives, or inquire about the flocks of turkeys, ducks and chickens we raise for the restaurant. Perhaps you’ll ask about our main dining room, housed in a rather rare cinder block-construction tobacco grading barn (not a “grain bin”) in which our 95-year-old neighbor worked in the 1950s. I can’t promise a perfectly smooth driveway. This is a restaurant on a working farm—both run only by my wife and I. Though, if we know you’re coming, we’ll do our best to hit it with the box blade.

Jeremy Law

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 October 2015

Based on the reviews, I thought this would be a wonderful experience. The country atmosphere was very nice, and we thought the rustic appearance inside was unusual
and had some appeal. The service was very good, and we ordered from the set menu as they suggested, each of the four of us ordering different dishes. We found the appetizers quite bland, but looked forward to the other 3 courses. I had the pork belly, which was good. Overall, I found the food very average. Being a cheesecake fan, I was looking forward to the desert I ordered, which was bacon/cheese cake. This was the low point, and was just not good at all. Our entire group was in agreement, and we were unable to eat it. Overall the facility is unique and has some charm. The service is very good. The food in my opinion is bland and quite overpriced.

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Thank Bowie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jeremy L, Owner at SoCo Farm and Food, responded to this reviewResponded 19 October 2015

I appreciate your feedback, and like the handful of negative reviews we've received, we take them for what they are and let them stand. I remember your table, and I understand we are not the place for everyone, as everyone has their preferences. That is reasonable. You didn't like the bacon cheesecake, and I will take that into account.

I do, however, wish to respond to two of your comments. First: our price. $50 dollars for a 4-course, locally sourced, fully-scratch made menu is a good value. Fine dining is rarely available for less than $50 per person--even with only two or three courses per person, depending on the restaurant. Some restaurants unflinchingly charge $50 for an entrée, and sometimes it's well worth it, depending on what you care to spend.

Second: you used the word "bland." I grant your opinion is your opinion, but in 5 years I've not heard that word used to describe our food--much less the entire meal. I take issue with this comment as it was your primary justification for feeling your meal with us was a poor value. I realize we cannot make everyone happy with every dish, but when you summarily dismiss the entire meal (save for the pork belly) I feel your bias transcends the meal itself.

That said, I see that you have among your TripAdvisor reviews several 5-star reviews for, among others: Applebee's, Longhorn and Outback. I also eat at chain restaurants from time to time, but I see them very differently than all of our favorite, locally-owned fine dining eNC restaurants. Perhaps therein lies the explanation.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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