Top 10 Farm to Table Restaurants
A tour of 10 venerable American restaurants (and a collection of their incredible recipes) that urge diners to eat responsibly and well.
A landlocked state may not be the first place you’d think to look for great sushi. But master chef Toshi Kizaki has been challenging that perception for more than 25 years, since opening Sushi Den in Denver, Colorado. When it comes to the restaurant’s eponymous ingredient, the fish is sourced both locally and from Japan’s Nagahama Fish Market (arriving on the restaurant’s doorstep less than 24 hours after it is hand-selected by Toshi’s brother). While that may not seem like the makings of a farm-to-table juggernaut, the restaurant also purchased a six-plus acre farm in order to grow its own produce, including such menu staples as Thai chili, shishito pepper, mung bean and kabocha. “Great chefs always look for great ingredients as flavors are more intense,” says Kizaki. The end result is a modern twist on Japanese classics, like Tequila-cured salmon paired with farm-fresh asparagus, jalapeno and a poached egg.
“My philosophy on cooking is to let the foods speak for themselves,” says Brian Scheehser, executive chef at Trellis in Kirkland, Washington. “I refrain from adding unnecessary ingredients that mask the natural flavors of the food, but instead focus on what’s in season and freshest at its peak.” That explains the minimal number of ingredients in his wild Alaksan halibut, which is served simply with a lemon vinaigrette and shoestring vegetables. And Scheehser makes eating well affordable. On Sundays and Mondays, diners can chow down on three courses of his agrarian fare for just $29, then wash it down with half-priced bottles of wine.
As a cheftestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Kevin Gillespie didn’t always have a say in the components of his meals. But as executive chef at Atlanta’s Woodfire Grill, this Fan Favorite is calling the shots. “You eat what’s around you because it’s better,” says Gillespie. “In modern times, it’s become a novelty. But we see it as a tradition and we embrace it. It gives the restaurant a much stronger sense of place and makes the experience for the diner more unique.” That farm-fresh philosophy extends to the restaurant’s cocktail menu, too, which includes fresh ingredients like muddled mint, cucumber and ginger shrub to standard cordials. Savoring simplicity, Gillespie’s menu is filled with fire-roasted takes on Southern staples, like fried green tomatoes with spicy Raita.