As with last year’s recommendations, this is not a scientific list by any means. But I’ve eaten at every one of these restaurants and highly recommend them all.
1. Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky. Who knew such excellence, delicious food, and astounding design could be found in the middle of America?! The whole experience there counts as the culinary highlight of my year. Potato Lovage Soup with homemade salami slivers…enough said. Added bonus: cotton candy as a parting gift. www.proofonmain.com
2. New Leaf Restaurant & Bar, Fort Tryon Park, New York City. The food prepared by chef Scott Campbell is local, organic, yummy, and so good. And all the proceeds go to the New York Restoration Project, which plants trees and makes beautiful gardens. Brunch is amazing, especially the homemade sausage. nyrp.org/About/New_Leaf_Restaurant_Bar
3. Bolete, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The hometown favorite by far. Bolete is so good that even the Philadelphia Inquirer has been sniffing around, and ranks it better than Emeril’s restaurant at the new casino here. Frankly, it’s no contest. And I love that I know many of the farmers contributing to the menu (including Rodale.com columnist Jean Nick…the Nickel Pincher!). boleterestaurant.com
4. Founding Farmers, Washington, DC. It’s casual, delicious, and really a model that that every town can replicate. Try the smoky New England Clam Chowder and the flatbread appetizers. That bread is fresh! wearefoundingfarmers.com
5. Cookshop, New York City. A fairly low-profile place, which is rare in Manhattan. But the food’s consistently really great. Their organic burger is the best in Manhattan, but unfortunately is only available for lunch. cookshopny.com
6. Serious Pie, Seattle, Washington. To be honest, I am sure there are even better farm-to-table restaurants in Seattle, but this is the only one I’ve had time to try, and it was really good. The pizza crust was perfection—thin, tender, smoky, tasty. And the toppings were unusual, but not so unusual as to not be comforting, which is what pizza is truly all about. tomdouglas.com/index.php/restaurants/serious-pie
7. Fore Street, Portland, Maine. This one makes it on to my list for the second year in a row, but just barely. While the salads made me cry with tears of pleasure, I’m sorry, but pork cooked over a fire should simply not be served rare. It’s not even about trichinosis, it’s about flavor and taste and yumminess. forestreet.biz
8. Savoy, New York City. Chef Peter Hoffman is still at it, serving savory and startlingly fresh foods that are right on the seasonal money. Although I am getting tired of this trend towards offal and bizarre foods; the thin slice of a pig’s head on the charcuterie plate is just too freaking weird. savoynyc.com
9. Uncle Ernie’s, Anguilla, British West Indies. In this case the farm is not really a farm, but the ocean. And the table is rickety and plastic, and in a shack right next to the most beautiful beach in the world: Shoal Bay. And I don’t care where that coleslaw comes from, it’s the best in the world. Although since Uncle Ernie died, it hasn’t been as good…it’s not quite as peppery as it used to be. RIP, Uncle Ernie. uncleerniesbeachbar.com
10. The Farmhouse, Emmaus, Pennsylvania. It’s the original, tried-and-true farm-to-table restaurant in our area. Last time I was there, they were hosting a fundraiser for the local farmer’s market. The food was great, the location friendly, and the spirit just right. Too bad I don’t drink anymore, because their beer tastings are awesome. thefarmhouse.com
Have a favorite farm-to-table restaurant? Post a comment and add to the list!