Maria’s Second Annual Top Ten Farm-to-Table Restaurant Recommendations

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.

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.

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 columnist Jean Nick…the Nickel Pincher!).

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Have a favorite farm-to-table restaurant? Post a comment and add to the list!

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15 Responses to Maria’s Second Annual Top Ten Farm-to-Table Restaurant Recommendations

  1. dtabor December 4, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    Why are these so far away from the American farmland? With one exception, these are lining the east coast – what about Kansas, Iowa, Texas, where the farms are located?

  2. Diana December 4, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    Southwark on South Street in Philadelphia is one of my favorites. Really nice neighborhood atmosphere and wonderful seasonal foods. The farmhouse platter, a meal in itself, is loaded with artisanal cheeses and fresh charcuterie. Their bartenders are some of the best in the city, which of course, isn’t a big draw for you, but I’ll bet if you challenged them, they’d come up with something sans alcohol that would make you very happy!

  3. Jean Nick December 4, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    I hope and trust there are lots of lovely farm-to-table restaurants in Kansas, Iowa, Texas, et. al. serving great food from their local farms, if you know of any please post them so others can find them! But please be assured we DO have lots of farms on the east coast and the two restaurants mentioned above that we help supply (Bolete and the Farmhouse) support dozens of those real live farms, including ours, that are 20 miles or less from their back doors.

  4. June December 4, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    She’s picking places she’s been to, and it shows that most places where she attends meetings or talks, or in the case of vacation, aren’t in the midwest farmbelt.
    I’m sure some suggestions will be posted by others here soon.

    I must admit that I rarely search for organic restaurants, but if you’re ever in Sint Maarten, look for Top Carrot for breakfast or lunch.
    A really good mostly organic vegetarian cafe with reasonably priced fresh vegetables in Simpson Bay area. Hard to find this in those tiny tropical countries.

  5. Mary December 4, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    Anything in Michigan?

  6. Kris December 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    Anyone in the Milwaukee area, be sure to check out Roots. Amazing food and a spectuacular view of downtown. They’ve been named one of the top 20 green restaurants in the country and really support local farmers. Plus, did I mention how good the food is?

  7. Wendy Steager December 4, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    Add The Farmer’s Diner of Middlebury and Quechee Vermont to this list. Their mission is to serve food grown and produced within a 50 mile radius of each diner. The breakfast meats served there are produced under their own brand Vermont Smoke and Cure. My personal favorite are the maple cured breakfast sausages. Tod Murphy is the local social entreprenuer behind the venture. Worth stopping for a meal next time you’re coming into Vermont from the south.

  8. Tracey December 4, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    Claire’s in Hardwick, Vermont is my recommendation.
    Not only a fabulous farm-to-table dining experience, Claire’s is also a successful example of a community centered investment and business model. Every visit has been a festival of local flavors, live music and local art–even the wine glasses are made by a glass-blower from Hardwick. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

  9. Eunice December 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

    Serenbe Farmhouse in Palmetto, Georgia….part of a growing utopian community.

  10. Tony December 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm #

    Agreed on the pig’s head. I’ve eaten pretty much every meat known to man and being able to see the hole for the eyeball was a little much even for me

  11. Renee December 4, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    HI. I love Cookshop and Savoy in NYC but could you recommend any in Connecticut? There must be a good one out here. I think the Dressing Room with Chef Michel Nischan is great but there must be more. Thx!

  12. barb December 4, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    hi, we like to eat at different resturants but down here in florida all they like to do is FRY everything, we surely would like to have one of those northern places down here
    can you please check & see if there are any good good places like cracker barrel they do have homemade food there that are here in the south besides their grits & seafood???????thanks

  13. Donna in Delaware December 5, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    Hi Maria,
    Thanks for the list of restaurants it is very timely since I will be in NYC over Christmas, I to visit a couple of them. Looking forward to having some really fresh, great, seasonal food that doesn’t come from Chile or Mexico. The next time I am in Vermont, I will definitely visit the restaurants mentioned by your other bloggers. Because we travel so much, I get tired of trying to locate and eat in restaurants that I haven’t tried before and spend lots of money on food that taste bad and grown in less than favorable conditions. Thanks everyone for your recommedations.

  14. kate December 5, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    Maria, I think you’ve hit a nerve! someone should do a comprehensive list, or a book or something. People are than eager for more of these places.

    In Eugene Or. there are a lot of these kinds of eateries. Our Farmer’s Market has a couple farm to table restaurants right on site.

  15. Karen December 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    Try Serenbe just outside of Atlanta. They have 2 farm to table restaurants; The Hil and The Farmhouse.

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